The characters in The Book Thief exhibit great courage in the face of great adversity. It takes courage for the Hubermanns to take in Max Vandenburg, a young Jewish man. It takes extreme courage for Max to make the trip to their home in the first place, and even to trust them. As the characters grow and change, courage becomes a bigger and bigger factor in their lives. In fact, it becomes a life-sustaining attribute and a testament to their positive humanity. The courage to resist unjust laws and practices and to display their resistance publically, even in small ways, makes these characters an inspiration to many readers.
Rudy's teddy bear is a symbol of his courage.