The Book Thief
The Book Thief Chapter 15 Summary
The Town Walker
- Things start going wrong when one of Rosa loses one of her washing customers.
- That night, she takes her irritation out on Liesel, giving her an extra hard washing along with the usual helping of verbal stings.
- About a week later, Rosa decides Liesel should pick up and deliver the washing. She says:
"Those rich people are less likely to fire us if you're the one standing in front of them. If they ask […], tell them I'm sick. And look sad when you tell them." (15.16)
- Rosa threatens Liesel with the wooden spoon. The spoon is what she'll get if she doesn't bring home the money, messes up the laundry, or goofs off with Rudy.
- Liesel tells Rosa what she wants to hear, which is "Yes, Mama" (15.28).
- Saying that and actually following Rosa's instructions are the best way for Liesel to stay off of Rosa's bad side.
- Liesel is fond of her new job, for the most part.
- She's also fond of the remaining four customers, the last of whom is "Frau Hermann, the mayor's wife, standing fluffy-haired and shivery in her enormous, cold-aired doorway" (15.35).
- Rudy accompanies Liesel on her duties from time to time.
- It's now mid-January (1940), and Liesel's class is doing a letter writing exercise.
- At home, Liesel asks Hans if she can write to her real mother.
- Clearly uncomfortable, Hans says that the foster-care lady, Frau Heinrich, who is also uncomfortable on the topic of Liesel's mother, might be able to deliver it.
- Liesel pushes away the sense that something is wrong and spends three hours writing her first letter to her mother.
- Later this night, Liesel hears Rosa asking Hans why Liesel is writing to her mother. We are told that Rosa's "voice is surprisingly calm and caring" (15.57).
- Now Liesel is sure something is wrong.
- Rosa also says, "Who knows where she is? Who knows what they've done to her?" (15.59).
- Curled up in a ball in her bed, Liesel asks herself those same questions.
- She also wonders who Rosa is talking about when she says, "they" (15.64).