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The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak
The Book Thief Chapter 50 Summary
The Visitor Liesel is playing soccer on Himmel Street when she learns that the NSDAP (the Nazi Party) is measuring people's basements, to see if they are deep enough to be good bomb shelters. She needs to find a way to warn Hans, Mama, and Max without looking suspicious. So, she rams into one of the boys playing soccer and gets a bloody knee. A rather friendly Nazi comes forward to help her and tells her she should get home. Rudy volunteers to take her, and she wishes he wasn't so up in everybody's business all the time. Still, she asks Rudy to get Hans for her, and he does. When he gets her in the house, she tells him the news. He says she's smart. They decide to hide Max under the bed in Liesel's room; as far as they know, the NSDAP isn't searching, just measuring basements. Before they have a chance to move him, the Nazis knock on the door. Hans quickly makes the sounds of warning to Max. He decides they will simply open the door and act as normal. Rosa answers and stalls them for a little time, like only Rosa can. The same Nazi who had helped Liesel when she fell, notices her there in the kitchen and gets excited and friendly. Hans is cleaning her bloody knee. Hans pretends to be unconcerned when the Nazi man heads down to the basement. It only takes three minutes, but for Liesel, Hans, and Rosa, they are the longest three minutes ever. Hans goes to the top of the stairs and asks if the man if he wants anything to drink. Now Hans is telling Liesel to go do her reading. The Nazis are coming back up the steps. He tells them that their basement isn't deep enough to be a bomb shelter, and then he leaves, wishing everybody, especially Liesel, a cheery good-bye. Liesel, Rosa, and Papa make their way to the basement. They move the drop cloths and the cans of paint and see Max, hiding under the stairs, holding his rusty scissors. He says, "I wouldn't have used them. […] I'm so sorry I put you through that" (50.147). Rosa takes the scissors, and says "You're alive. […] We all are" (50.149). (It's not clear whether Max is talking about using the scissors to try to kill himself, or to try to kill the Nazi if the Nazi had found him.)
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