Study Guide

The Book Thief Chapter 22

By Markus Zusak

Chapter 22

The Mayor's Library

  • Liesel knows the mayor's wife saw her stealing the book, and she's paranoid.
  • She's really afraid to deliver laundry to the mayor's house on Grande Strasse.
  • Rudy goes with her (though he doesn't know why she's afraid).
  • After much time-killing, Liesel knocks on the door of the mayor's house.
  • The mayor's wife answers the door, takes the washing, and gives Liesel the money.
  • Then she closes the door.
  • Liesel is a little dazed. Maybe, just maybe, she hadn't been seen book-thieving.
  • Nope, Death tells us that she was, indeed, seen by the mayor's wife, but the woman is "just waiting for the right moment" (22.36) to let her know.
  • One day, Liesel goes to the mayor's house without Rudy.
  • When the mayor's wife opens the door, she asks Liesel to come in.
  • She tells Liesel to wait.
  • Liesel thinks she'll come back with the dirty laundry, but instead she comes with a huge stack of books.
  • Liesel is very afraid! She thinks the mayor's wife is going to do something awful to her.
  • Instead, she invites Liesel into a room full of books.
  • Shelves and shelves of books cover the walls.
  • Liesel has never seen anything like it.
  • She asks if she can touch them, and the mayor's wife gives her the okay.
  • After touching as many books as possible, Liesel takes the stack of books the mayor is holding and puts them in their place on one of the shelves.
  • The window is open in the room, and it's very cold.
  • Liesel notices that the mayor's wife looks very damaged.
  • After some time, Liesel leaves. She walks home in a dream.
  • She realizes she didn't thank the mayor's wife. How could she be so rude?
  • So, she turns back.
  • But, the mayor answers the door. His wife, Ilsa Hermann comes and stands next to him, looking again as if she's in pain.
  • Liesel stammers. The mayor's wife gives her a very slight nod.
  • After the door closes, Liesel smiles.

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