The Book Thief Quotes

"It's just a small story really, about, among other things:

*A girl

*Some words

*An accordionist

*Some fanatical Germans

*A Jewish fist fighter

*And quite a lot of thievery" (Death, Death and Chocolate, p. 5)

This is the basic outline of the story as given to the reader by Death. Death is the narrator of the book and the book is seen entirely from the perspective of Death. He is telling us here the book is about Liesel, her books, Hans, Erik and their shared accordion, the Nazis, Max- Erik's son, and the books Liesel steals. The rest of the book is spent explaining these subjects.

"The book thief had struck for the first time-the beginning of an illustrious career." (Death, Arrival on Himmel Street, p. 29)

Liesel has stolen her first book. To be truthful the book had fallen to the ground and she picked it up. It was entitled The Grave Digger's Handbook and belonged to the apprentice grave digger who helped dig her brother's grave. Liesel just picked it up when she saw it sticking out of the snow. She had no idea what the book was about, because she at this point in her life, could not read. It is this book which bonds her and Hans together for the rest of their lives. This book is also the start of her life of crime as a book thief.

"One of them, the infamous Rudy, would soon become Liesel's best friend, and later, her partner and sometime catalyst in crime." (Death, The Kiss, p. 47)

Rudy was one of six children in the Steiner family, who lived next door to Rosa and Hans Hubermann. Rudy and Liesel became friends after Liesel blocked Rudy's penalty shot during a soccer game. He retaliated by throwing a snowball in her face and the rest is history. They became inseparable, especially when they joined a gang of boys who were stealing fruit and vegetables from local farmers. Rudy even helped her as she stole books from the mayor's library. Rudy was smart and athletic, but he had a rebellious streak which got him into trouble. Rudy was also a ruthlessly loyal friend.

"You wouldn't think it, she wrote, "but it was not so much the school who helped me to read. It was Papa." (Liesel, The Other Side of Sandpaper, p. 64)

Liesel wrote the story of her life in the book titled The Book Thief. It is here she admits the late night sessions, in which Papa would write letters and words on pieces of sandpaper, did more to help her learn to read than all the lessons she had in school. She was forever in Papa's debt for teaching her to read, because it opened up a whole new world to her. It allowed her to enrich, her and those around her, lives forever.

"If I ever ask you to keep a secret for me, you will do it." (Hans Hubermann, The Way Home, p. 127)

By this time in the story, Hans knew Max would be coming to stay at the Hubermann home. He had to be sure Liesel would keep the secret so the whole family and Max would be safe. Liesel did not let Hans down, because she would never do anything to endanger her Mama and Papa. She by this time had come to love them both.

"A Jew had once saved his life and he couldn't forget that." (Death, The Accordionist (The Secret Life of Hans Hubermann), p.180)

This is an explanation of why Hans was reluctant to join the Nazi Party and join in with the others in his town in the ill treatment of its Jewish citizens. He owed his life to Erik Vandenburg, a German Jew, who did not care what religion his friend Hans practiced. Erik and Hans were friends and that was all that mattered to them. The fact that Erik, unknowingly, saved Hans' life added another item, to the list of objections he had towards the Nazi Party. He owed Erik to not forget him or what he had done for him. He also owed Erik's son and he would do everything he could to help save Max.

"Thank you."

"Those for Max Vandenburg, those were the two most pitiful words he could possibly say, rivaled only by I'm sorry." (Death, Max Vandenburg, The Swapping of Nightmares, p. 208)

Max feels guilty for putting the Hubermann family in jeopardy of being seized by the authorities, only his desire to live out weighed his guilt. This is why despite wanting to leave he stays in the basement, because he knows what awaits him if he leaves. He carries with him the guilt of leaving his family behind in Stuttgart and the guilt of jeopardizing Hans, Rosa and Liesel. So the only way he can express these emotions to them is to say thank you and I'm sorry.

"Where Hans Hubermann and Erik Vandenburg were ultimately united by music, Max and Liesel were held together by the quiet gathering of words." (Death, The Gamblers (A Seven-Sided Die), p. 248)

Hans and Erik were drawn together, during the uncertainty of World War I, by the music of the accordion. It made their friendship stronger and kept Erik alive for Hans every time he played Erik's instrument. In this same way, Max and Liesel shared a love of words, which too drew them together in friendship, during the horror of World War II. This bond was unbroken by the book Max left for Liesel, after he had to leave the Hubermann household. They never forgot one another and were fortunately reunited after the war.

"Goodbye, Papa, you saved me. You taught me to read. No one can play like you. I'll never drink champagne. No one can play like you." (Liesel Meminger, The End of the World (Part II), pp. 538-539)

Liesel is saying goodbye to her father, Hans may be her foster father, but to her he was her father. She has found his body next to Rosa on the street after the bombing. She can only thank him for all that he has done to make her life filled with love and words. She knows love and words can make her life filled with joy and satisfaction. It is sad and yet right, that she is able to get the chance to one last time thank him, for all he has done for her.

"I am haunted by humans." (Death, The Handover Man, p. 550)

This is the last note from Death. He has given back Liesel's book to her and she is with her family and friends once again.

Death is constantly being followed by the souls he has taken. He doesn't always understand humans, but they are constantly in his thoughts. He does know he will always have more souls to take and this bothers him, because he cannot stand to see the suffering of those left behind to grieve.

Related Links:

The Book Thief Summary
The Book Thief Quiz
The Book Thief Part 9 Epilogue Homecoming - The Handover Man Summary
The Book Thief Death and Chocolate - The Jesse Owens Incident Summary
The Book Thief Part 1-Part 2 The Other Side of Sandpaper - Book of Fire Summary
The Book Thief Important Characters
Literature Summaries

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