Saturday, 24 March 2012

The Book Thief: Reading Respond VI


Part 6: The Dream Carrier


Death's Diary



Death started by clearing the misunderstanding about his appearance; he did not look like the grim reaper. He then proceeded to complain about his job, how around this time he had to travel to Poland to Russia to Africa and back again. People died, from bombs, poisonous gases, and gun fires. The body count only went up. Some begged for Death while he already had enough work in his hands. He was haunted by the sight of destruction, and was shattering beneath the stoic facade. Human said war was Death's best friend, but he himself would say otherwise. To him, war was a demanding boss, asking you for the impossible.

During these years of desperation for distraction, Death came across pieces of beauty left in the ruin of humanity, one of them being the Book Thief's story.



The Snowman



In Christmas 1942, the Hubermanns had no visitor, since Hans Jr insisted on his strike against his father and Trudy already stopped by a week before that. For this special occasion, Liesel brought a handful of snow to Max's hands. He laughed, took a taste of it then thanked her. Encouraged by this, Liesel brought as many buckets of snow down the basement as she could and had a snowball fight with him. Soon after, Hans joined it, and took a leap of faith by throwing a snowball at his wife. They then made a snowman out of the leftover snow, completed with button eyes, string smile and a scarf.

However, from that event onward, Max's health went down the hill. He was constantly cold, and after two months, he finally collapsed. Hans and Rosa rushed to carry him to Liesel’s bedroom and keep him warm. That night, Max was visited seven times, mostly by Liesel. In the morning, she brought him his sketchbook and made sure not to look at it out of respect. She believed that her snowman was what caused max’s illness, but Papa insisted that she did the right thing.



Thirteen Presents



Liesel talked to unconscious Max, promising him her birthday’s cake if only he woke up. He didn’t, and Death commented how close he came to having to take Max with him. He woke up briefly on the fifth day, being spoon-fed by Rosa, before falling asleep again. The next time he woke was almost a week later, opening his eyes and then closed them. From that day on, Liesel started reading The Whistler aloud to Max.

One day, after playing soccer, the ball got squashed by a car. Liesel then got struck by the idea of giving Max presents. It shows that she cared. She placed the deflated ball on the end of Max’s bed and promised him to tell her all about the soccer game she had once he woke up. The next presents were a ribbon from a gutter, a pinecone on the street, a button leaning against classroom wall, a flat stone from the river, a feather trapped in a church’s door, two newspapers and a candy wrapper from the school. She would then imagine the conversation she would have with him once he woke up. Her ninth present, after being suggested by Hans, was a cloud. She wrote the description of a giant cloud she observed one day and put it along with her other presents. The next presents were a toy soldier from the ground, a maple leaf in the school closet and the final chapter of The Whistler being read to him. The thirteen and the last present was Liesel’s tear, falling on Max’s cheek as Rosa hugged her.



Fresh Air, An Old Nightmare, And What To Do With A Jewish Corpse



As Liesel had already finished The Whistler, she wanted more. So she and Rudy made another trip to the mayor's house. She stole a book called The Dream Carrier, because the title reminded her how both she and Max suffered from dreams. The thievery went smoothly, but they did not know that the library window was left open on purpose. Afterward, Liesel would dutifully read one chapter before going to school and another chapter after school to Max every day.


By mid-March, the Hubermanns had to consider the possibility of Max never waking up. Liesel ear dropped a conversation between Hans and Rosa on what to do with his corpse. Liesel was caught, and voiced herself that he was not dead, yet. None of them dared to raise their hope any higher. Meanwhile, Liesel started to see Max in her dream, taking her brother's place.


Eight days later, Rosa busted into Liesel's classroom and proceeded to scream at Liesel for messing with her hairbrush. In truth, she was there to tell Liesel that Max had awoken, and she did. After school, she rushed home and indeed found Max fully conscious on the bed. She confessed him that they did discuss what to do if he died, but he did not mind it. Instead, he tearfully thanked her for all the gifts she gave him. That night, she read to him because he was afraid of falling asleep. He did anyway. By the next month, his health had improved enough for him to go back to the basement again.



Death's diary: Cologne



On May 30, Cologne was bombed and five hundred people was greeted by Death. He carried all of them, but only the children that he held in his arms. The sky was yellow. While carrying a teenage girl, Death noticed a group of children getting excited over dropped fuel tanks. They asked their father if they could keep them, the man immediately said no.



The Visitor



While Liesel was playing soccer, she saw a division of soldiers going from house to house, measuring their basements to see if their depth was sufficient to be bomb shelter. So she ran herself into another player and got injured, so she was taken to her house and got an opportunity to warn her parents about this before the party arrived at their front steps. Out of panic, they tried to hide Max under Liesel's bed, but there was not enough time. The party came in, searched the basement, and found nothing. Fortunately, the Hubermann's basement was not qualified. When Liesel and her parents went down the basement, they found Max hiding under the steps with a scissor in his hands.



The Schmunzeler



Minutes after the intense confrontation, someone knocked at the door. Panic resumed its place in the Hubermann's household, but it was just Rudy. Papa joked that he was her boyfriend, which she immediately countered. Rudy suggested her to steal some cigarettes from Hans, but she refused. This normality reminded her that everything was fine then.



Death's Diary: The Parians



Death told us his experience in concentration camps, how souls just piled up on one another as the gas chamber went on. They were desperate, some enough to attempt an escape, but ended up on the bottom of a cliff. Death freed them from their fear, all the while questioning God why he had to do this. He treated each soul with great care, being their last act of kindness. This was one of the times when he really needed a distraction.

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