The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak
The Book Thief Chapter 20 Summary
Book of Fire
- Liesel and Hans are walking out of the town square, but one of Hans's acquaintances stops him and asks him if he's been accepted into the Nazi party yet.
- Meanwhile, Liesel is drawn to the big pile of burned books. It reminds her of "the road of yellow stars" (20.9) (the street of Jewish houses).
- She watches as the men shovel the ash into carts.
- She sees them remove "Half a red flag, two posters advertising a Jewish poet, three books, and a wooden sign with something written on it in Hebrew" (20.15). (Hebrew is the language of worship in Judaism.)
- Liesel isn't sure why the books didn't burn – they are "survivors" (20.16).
- The clean-up men go over to their truck, and Liesel sees her opportunity.
- She grabs a book. It has a blue cover, and she can see the word "Shoulder." The book is still smoking.
- Liesel stands very still and watches as the clean-up men come by. She hears footsteps, then sees the mayor in his Nazi suit. He doesn't see Liesel.
- The book isn't quite so hot now, and Liesel puts it under her clothes, against her chest.
- As she walks toward Hans and his acquaintance, the book starts to feel pretty warm.
- Uh oh. She feels like someone has seen her.
- She turns to look – it's a shadow with "fluffy hair" (20.43).
- Liesel curses.
- Liesel and Papa leave the square.
- Papa notices something is wrong with Liesel.
- For one thing, there's smoke coming out of her clothes.
- The book under her clothes is burning her.
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