Part 5: The Whistler
The Floating Book (Part 1)
The scene flash forwarded to December showing Rudy jumping into the freezing Amper River to retrieve a book for Liesel. Death spoiled us that Rudy would be dead in a little under two years later from a bomb raid, where he would receive the kiss he longed for a little too late. Even Death grieved for him.
The Gamblers (A Seven-Sided Die)
1) The Haircut: Mid-April 1941
The stress and tension started to build up in the Hubermanns household that Hans and Rosa began to argue over the smallest thing; one of which was finding a scissor to cut Max's hair. So instead, Max gave his own scissor to Liesel and trusted her to cut his hair. She did as she was asked and later burned the hair in the fireplace. Max thanked her for it before going back into the basement.
2) The Newspaper: Early May
Despite how paranoid Liesel was becoming, she still went to the mayor's library regularly. On one occasion, she was offered to have The Whistler, but she turned it down. This was because she did not feel the urge to have it. On her way back, she would try to find newspaper in trash cans, hopefully with an empty crossword, as she had been doing for the past few months. Liesel would then give the paper to Max, who was now staying downstairs all the time due to warmer weather. While he did the crossword, she would read next to him. At times, she would have him quizzed and practiced her words by painting them on the wall.
3) The Weatherman: Mid-May
On the day where Liesel's team won Rudy's over soccer game, she proudly described it to her Papa, Mama and then Max. Wanting to imagine the scene more clearly, Max asked Liesel to go out and tell him about the weather. She did so and came back to childishly report him the weather. Max then proceed to paint the observed sky and two figures -- Liesel and him -- walking beneath it on the wall.
4) The Boxer: End of May
Max had occasional visitors every day, but it was Liesel who he hoped for the most. She would come down with a newspaper and a weather report. When he was alone, he would engage into exercising until his muscles were sore to keep himself as fit as he was before the war. Sometimes, while waiting for his heartbeat to slow down, he would go stand in the middle of the room in the dark, fantasizing a boxing match between him and the Fuhrer, with Nazi German referee and audiences. So, predictably, just when Max was about to win, Hitler used the power of persuasion to have everybody climb into the ring and beat Max up. This was until imaginary Liesel climbed in with a newspaper, before the vision faded.
5) The New Dream: A Few Nights Later
Liesel walked down and found Max doing his push-ups. Max told her about his dream fighting the Fuhrer, how he was training to go against him again. When she asked him who won the fight, he paused for a moment, and then said that he did.
6) The Painter: Early June
Liesel came back from school one day to find her parents and max painted pages from Mein Kampf white and hung them up to be dried. She, of course, helped them while picturing what Max said to be the battle between him and Hitler. The four of them were there, preparing what would become The Word Shaker.
7) The Showdown: June 24
Again, the mayor's wife insisted on Liesel to take The Whistler, but this time, she also handed her a letter of redundancy for Rosa. This meant Rosa just lost her last customer. As she was led to the door, Ilsa told her that she was always welcomed to come and read. Liesel, however, did not go home straight away. She opened the letter and let her rage exploded. Liesel went back to the house, threw The Whistler at Ilsa’s feet, and insulted her for not being able to let go of her son who was killed over twenty years ago. She then left the mayor’s wife there, stunned and hurt.
When she got home, Liesel told that what happened was her fault and asked Rosa to punish her. Mama didn't. So Liesel went to Max and asked him to teach her how to do push-ups. She did it to the point where it would cause sores days afterward, but continued anyway. That night, seeing how troubled she was, Hans asked her if this had to do with the laundry. Liesel answered with a statement that she thought she was going to hell.
While Liesel was getting used to Max’s existence, Rudy was getting into troubles. In Hitler Youth practices, Tommy often turned the marching lines into a mess due to his nerve and hearing problems. Rudy tried to defend Tommy from their leader, but got punished for it. Tommy felt very guilty about it, but Rudy just shrugged it off and used it as an opportunity to ask Liesel for a kiss. She, of course, turned him down.
Because Arthur was gone, the thief gang had a new leader – Viktor Chemmel – who stole just for the sake of it. He treated him members badly, especially Rudy and Liesel, but they followed him anyway. Their first steal for the new group was not so successful, due to the apples they wanted already became to rot. Rudy complained about it and got kicked to the ground. When he stood up, he spat his blood at Viktor’s feet. Viktor demanded revenge, which he would get five months later.
During his darkest hours, Max would turn his random thoughts into pictures. One afternoon, after Max fell asleep, Liesel came down and sneaked a peck of the sketches. Max woke up and startled her. She claimed that he scared her, but not saying that it was himself or his sketches.
The Whistler and the Shoes
After being forced to do drills on a freshly fertilized field in Hitler Youth practice, Rudy demanded some sense of victory. So he and Liesel decided to go stealing on their own. Their target this time was the mayor’s wife, who was guilty of firing Rosa. On the fifth visit to the mayor’s house, they found that the library window that had been locked until then was now opened. Liesel took off her shoes and climbed in. They heard noises from upstairs and started to panic. So she only took her original goal: The Whistler. After running away, Rudy realized that Liesel did not care about the food he wanted at all, and Liesel realized that he forgot to bring along her shoes. As a result, Rudy had to risk running back to get them. He did and, as usual, asked for a kiss. She said it was his fault in the first place to forget them, hence, no reward. On their way back home, Rudy asked her about the book and called her, for the first time, a book thief.
Three Acts of Stupidity By Rudy Steiner
1) Rudy attempted to steal from a grocery. He went unnoticed at first, but got caught because he stole the biggest potato, which everyone had their eyes on. He lied that his family desperately needed food and was threatened to be sent to the police. His teacher, who happened to be doing his shopping, stepped in and supported his lies, saving him in the process.
2) Again, at Hitler Youth meeting, Rudy and Tommy were punished. After some running, Rudy was asked when the Fuhrer's birthday was. Despite knowing the answer, he said it was the day of Jesus's birth. Rudy was given seven more laps to run.
A few days afterward, Rudy spotted his Hitler Youth leader and started throwing rocks at him. Expectedly, he got beat up. The Fuhrer’s birthday question was asked again and Rudy, being Rudy, said it was Easter Monday. He got a public humiliation for that by being given a really bad haircut.
3) Rudy stopped to attend Hitler Youth meeting all together. His family had to beg him to go or else his family would get fined. However, things turned out for the better this time. Rudy's older brother suggested him to join the Flieger Division. Due to his dislike toward his leader, Rudy agreed and did quite a good job in his new place.
The Floating Book (Part II)
On their way from school one day in December, Rudy and Liesel spotted the Hitler Youth leader. To avoid him, they change their path to the river, where they ran into Viktor Chemmel. Grinning, Viktor snatched The Whistler away from Liesel because he saw how precious it was to her before throwing it into the river. Rudy immediately jumped into the freezing water and soon after, presented the copy in his hand. This being a perfect opportunity, he asked Liesel, for the last time, to kiss him. Death said he would go to his grave without the kiss he longed for.