Study Guide

The Book Thief Chapter 24

By Markus Zusak

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Chapter 24

The Attributes Of Summer

  • Well, now you know who will arrive at Himmel Street as 1940 draws to a close.
  • Liesel doesn't know.
  • Her summer, the summer of 1940, involves, for the most part, four main activities: reading The Shoulder Shrug, reading in the mayor's library, soccer games in the street, and various types of thievery.
  • Attribute 1: The Shoulder Shrug is a great book. Liesel can see why the Nazis don't like it. The hero is a Jewish man, and he's "shown in a positive light" (24.9). Liesel and Hans read it together.
  • Attribute 2: To Rudy's dismay, Liesel disappears to the mayor's house frequently. You can find her in the mayor's library, with the mayor's wife, Ilsa Hermann.
  • As always, Ilsa Hermann is wearing her bathrobe. She doesn't speak and gives the general impression of being "damaged" (24.22).
  • When Liesel is older, she won't be able to remember the names of the books she read on the floor of the library.
  • But, she will "remember […] that one of the picture books had a name written clumsily on the inside of the cover. The name of the boy: […] Johann Hermann" (24.27-28).
  • Liesel asks Ilsa who the boy is.
  • She says the boy was her… but before she can finish the sentence, Death tells us that he remembers Johann. Johann died wrapped in barbed wire in 1918 (twenty-two years ago).
  • Ilsa tells Liesel that Johann also "froze to death" (24.34).
  • Death tells us that Ilsa Hermann has "embraced" (24.36) suffering. It's what she does. She suffers over the loss of Johann, even all these years later.
  • When Liesel leaves the mayors house that day, she says something that's very hard to say: "I'M SORRY" (24.39).
  • Ilsa asks her why she's sorry, but Liesel is already out the door.
  • Liesel feels sorry for Ilsa, and thinks about stopping her visits.
  • But Liesel is fascinated by Ilsa, and she just can't stay away from all those books.
  • Later on, the mayor's wife will "let [Liesel] down" (24.46). Liesel will forget feeling sorry for her, and will use words to hurt her.
  • Attribute 3: Playing soccer on Himmel Street, Liesel apologizes to Tommy Müller for beating him up that day at school.
  • Since then he's been really scared of her.
  • She's trying really hard to stop his fear.
  • Liesel and Rudy always end up playing against each other. Rudy loves calling Liesel a "Saumensch Arschgrobbler," (24.62)—a pig-girl—and an "ass scratcher" (24.62).
  • Attribute 4: Thievery is a big part of the summer.
  • Rudy is the biggest reason for their stealing—he's always hungry.
  • On top of the rationing (limitations on amount of food a person can buy), Alex Steiner's business is doing badly: "(the threat of Jewish competition was gone, but so were the Jewish customers)" (24.63).
  • Things aren't so great food-wise at the Hubermanns' house either.
  • Rosa makes one pot of pea soup per week. They eat it with bread, as well as meat and potatoes if they are lucky.
  • Driven by their hunger they join a fruit-stealing gang.
  • The gang meets at the Amper River (where Hans and Liesel have been reading and accordion-ing.)
  • The leader of the gang is Arthur Berg.
  • Here's the scheme:
  • To get to the apples they have to climb over really high barbed-wire.
  • If you get stuck on the wire, you're on your own, explains Arthur Berg
  • If anybody sees anybody not in the gang, they should scream really loudly.
  • Arthur asks, "Richtig?" [Correct?] (24.96).
  • Everybody replies, "Richtig" (24.97).
  • Rudy and Liesel quietly debate whether to go through with it.
  • They decide to do it.
  • When Rudy asks, Arthur shows them the best place to get back over the fence.
  • On the first afternoon of fruit stealing, Liesel and Rudy's share of the take is six apples each.
  • They'd like to share them at home, but can't tell anyone that they stole them.
  • So, they each eat six apples in about thirty minutes.
  • That night, Liesel can't stop throwing up.
  • Rosa wants to know why she's throwing up, and Liesel suggests the pea soup.
  • Rosa isn't impressed by the answer.
  • Liesel knows it was the apples, but she's happy about it.

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