Study Guide

The Book Thief Courage

By Markus Zusak

Courage

Chapter 8
Death

At school, Rudy made a special point of seeking Liesel out during the breaks. He didn't care that others made noises about the new girl's stupidity. (8.47)

It takes courage not to care what people think. It seems to come naturally to Rudy. When he starts trying to impress the wrong people, it will take courage to deal with consequences.

Chapter 9
Death

I just wish I was like Jesse Owens, Papa. (9.45)

Rudy's identification with people who Hitler despises, in this case, black people, is natural, not courageous. But, to maintain it as he grows older will take courage.

Chapter 10
Death

In 1933, 90 percent of Germans showed unflinching support for Adolph Hitler. That leaves 10 percent who didn't. Hans Hubermann belonged to that ten percent. (10.9)

Scary statistic, especially for Hans and people like him. Do you think Death's figure is accurate? Where might you go to verify his information?

Chapter 26
Death

Look proud, he advised himself. You cannot look afraid. Read the book. Smile at it. It's a great book – the greatest book you've ever read. Come on, Max, you're only a few hours away. (26.6)

Max is making an ultimate voyage of courage. Imagine how he must feel, being in public after two years of hiding. Ironically, Hitler's book is the only thing between him and a complete freak-out. Courage usually includes some amount a fear.

Walter opened Mein Kampf and slid [the ticket] inside, next to the map he'd bought with the book itself. (26.11)

Walter is another courageous character, even though we don't get to know him. His courage in helping Max truly does save Max's life. It also takes courage for Max to go with him, leaving his family behind.

Chapter 30
Death

Max Vandenburg […] closed his eyes and drooped a little further into safety. The very idea of it was ludicrous, but he accepted it nonetheless. (30.5)

At this moment, Max is finally able to let go of his courage and do something kind of like relaxing.

Chapter 35
Death

She was a good woman for a crisis. (35.59)

Rosa is a courageous woman, even though she might seem an unlikely candidate for bravery when we first meet her.

Chapter 79
Max Vandenburg

He let his mouth kiss her palm. "Yes, Liesel, it's me," and he held the girls hand in his face and cried onto her fingers. (79.51)

This act also takes courage. Max knows that it will be much "safer" for himself and Liesel if he ignores her. But he also knows that some things are more important than safety.

Death

In those camps, many people were still made to work, and walk. Max Vandenburg was one such Jew. (79.9)

It must have taken great courage for Max to survive Dachau. It's amazing that he survived after the incident with Liesel. We hope that after the war, he doesn't have to be quite so brave all the time.

Chapter 80
Death

He accumulated the loud, clumsy specks of saliva and tears as if they were lovely to his face, and more important, he was able to hold her down. (80.93)

It takes lots of courage for Rudy to stop Liesel from following Max and the other Jewish prisoners en route to Dachau. But, as is often the case with Rudy, the courage flows out of him naturally, like a stream of love.

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