Sunday, 25 March 2012

The Book Thief: Reading Respond VIII

Part 8: The Word Shaker

Dominoes And Darkness

Earlier, Rudy went through a physical inspection that he refused to tell anyone about. So while he was playing dominoes with his sister, two men from the party showed up and offered his parents an opportunity. They wanted Rudy to attend their specialized school, because he qualified as an Aryan, he was a good student and he had shown himself to be athletically gifted. The parents, however, refused due to the rumors they heard about the school and did not want Rudy to suffer. Death said that this would lead to Rudy's father suffering the same fate as Hans and Rudy lost what might have been his hope to survive the war.

The Thought of Rudy Naked

The scene flashed back to the physical examination Rudy and other two boys had. They were stripped naked and humiliated in front of a nurse, a doctor and between themselves. Two out of three, including Rudy, we're chosen for an officer class of advanced German school. After the day the party visited his house, Rudy told Liesel the examination, which caused Liesel to have the image of naked Rudy stuck in her head.


Hans Hubermann was expecting a punishment, not an approval to join the Nazi party. What he waited for revealed itself two days later, when he got a call to the war front. It was also a sign that German army was getting desperate as they had to recruit any man available. Five days later, Alex Steiner also got the call for not letting his son be taken away.

The Promise Keeper's Wife

The night before the men left their home, Hans and Alex drowned themselves in liquor. Hans accidentally knocked on Frau Holtzapfel's house, mistaken for his own. When he got to his home, he ended up sleeping in the basement. On the following morning, Rosa woke him with a bucket of water.

Before he left the Himmel Street, he got blessing from Barbara - Alex's wife, and even from Frau Holtzapfel. Before he left the train station, he asked Liesel to take care of Mama and his accordion, and to continue reading during bomb raids. He stepped on the train, they waved for him, and he was gone.

After twelve days of his father's absence, Rudy had enough. He and Liesel went on a walk to nowhere in particular. Rudy yelled aloud that he wanted to kill the Fuhrer and insulted Liesel. She shouted back that he only lost his father, not explaining more how she also lost Max, her brother, her mother and a father who was not even biologically related to her. As they walked back, they mentioned the race they had and how they both ended up covered in mud. Good time.

That night, Liesel woke from noises in the dark. She immediately thought of a ghost, her Papa, and Max. But it was Rosa with the accordion strapped to her chest, silently praying.

The Collector

Alex was sent to Austria, being a tailor he was, to fix uniforms for soldiers in Russia. Hans was sent to, ironically, Stuttgart, Max's hometown. His job, much less pleasant, was to collect dead bodied from air raid. On his first taste of the raid, the old man he carried died mid-way in his arm. He also encountered a boy body, whose man was, again, ironically, Rudy. As he watched the mother cried for her son, he thought of his own family back home. Once the job was done, he attempted to write a letter home, but took too long to make the words out.

The Bread Eater

Back in Himmel Street, Liesel often imagined how Papa, Alex and Max were doing. To distract her from this, she concentrated on the reading section between her and Frau Holtzapfel, who would sometimes gave her something to eat. There were also more Jews parades, which gave Rudy an idea to follow Hans's footsteps. He and Liesel cycled ahead of a parade, dropped pieces of breads over the street and then hid. It almost worked, if not because Liesel trying to see if Max was amount the Jews and was noticed by the soldiers. They were chased after but managed to escape.

The Hidden Sketchbook

There was another bomb raid before Christmas, and of course, Liesel was expected to read. After the raid, Rosa presented her Max's sketchbook from under her bed sheet. Max said she would get it when she was ready, and Rosa had always thought that Liesel was ready, ever since the first day they met. The book contained sketches, of Rudy, her presents, the snowman and several other things, one of them being The Word Shaker, a story featuring Max and Liesel. The story was about the power of words and how both Hitler and Liesel used it, but for different effects.

The Anarchist's Suit Collection

On Christmas Eve 1942, lacking of the two fathers, the Steiners invited the Hubermanns to celebrate the special day together. That evening, she and Rudy went exploring his father's tailor shop. There, she promised him to have his Christmas present, and then grabbed a suit for him to wear. Once he tried it on, he laughed and said he missed his father. Despite an urge to kiss him, Liesel simply help him up from the floor he was laying on and wished him Merry Christmas.

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