The Book Thief
The Book Thief Chapter 61 Summary
Dominoes and Darkness
- As Rudy's little sister will soon say, "two monsters" are in the Steiner's kitchen, talking to Rudy's parents.
- Rudy and two sisters can hear them. They are playing dominoes, and the other Steiner children are in another room with the radio on. They don't know the Gestapo is in the house, wanting their brother.
- Rudy is thinking this might be connected to a recent school incident. He hasn't told Liesel or his family about it.
- It has to do with three boys getting a physical examination.
- Rudy is arranging the dominoes in three rows leading to a tower in the middle. This way, they can each knock down a row.
- They hear their mother begging the Gestapo not to take Rudy.
- At his sisters' request, he turns of the light and lights a candle for the knocking-down of the dominoes.
- They hear the Gestapo agents telling Rudy's parents that Rudy has excellent grades, and "athletic ability" (61.16).
- Now Rudy gets it. (They want to take him for training for special Nazi training, maybe training to enter the secret police.)
- Rudy curses himself for winning the races, for trying to show up Franz Dreischer and for trying to show "everyone" (61.20) how good he is.
- Rudy hears his father telling the Gestapo they've heard the boys they take are subjected to abuse.
- The Gestapo denies this, saying it's just gossip:
"Our school is one of the finest ever established. It's better than world class. We're creating an elite group of German citizens in the name of the Führer..." (61.28)
- At this point, Rudy isn't able to stand hearing it, and he and his sisters start the dominoes crashing.
- Rudy's older brother Kurt comes in and asks them what's going on in the kitchen.
- Rudy's youngest sister, Bettina, five-years-old, tells him, "There are two monsters […]. They've come for Rudy" (61.37).
- Rudy and Kurt come into the kitchen later.
- Their father looks crushed. Their mother won't tell what was said when the dominoes were crashing.
- Later, Rudy will tell himself that if he had heard what was said, he would have given himself to the Gestapo men.
- If he'd done that, it's possible that what will soon happen to Hans, would not have happened to his father.
- It's also possible that if Rudy had gone to that school, he would be alive.
- But he didn't give himself to the Gestapo and isn't leaving Himmel Street.