Study Guide

The Book Thief Chapter 19

By Markus Zusak

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Chapter 19

The Gates of Thievery

  • Liesel stares at the mound of burned books while she waits on the church steps for Hans.
  • When Hans arrives, he asks her what's bothering her.
  • She's been putting things together in her mind. Here's the way she adds up the situation:
    The word communist + a large bonfire + a collection of dead letters + the suffering of her mother + the death of her brother = the Führer (19.10)
  • The Führer—Adolph Hitler—is the "they" (19.12) that Rosa was talking about. (See the end of Chapter 15.)
  • She asks Hans if her mother's a Communist.
  • Hans doesn't know—he hasn't met her mother.
  • She asks Hans if Hitler made her mother disappear.
  • Hans says, "I think he might have, yes" (19.16).
  • Liesel says, "I hate the Führer. […] I hate him" (19.17).
  • Hans wants to hug Liesel and say he's sorry about what's happened to her and her family.
  • But, he does something else. He slaps her face.
  • Being hit by Hans is far worse than being hit by Rosa and the nuns at school.
  • Hans tells her it's okay to say it when she's home, but nowhere else.
  • Soon, Hans will have to give Liesel a follow-up lecture and a much stronger one.
  • Hans and Liesel make themselves salute and say, "Heil Hitler" (19.31).
  • They sit on the steps for about fifteen minutes.
  • In a few more minutes, "the gates of thievery would open just a crack, and Liesel Meminger […] would squeeze through" (19.36).

The Book Thief Chapter 19 Study Group

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