Study Guide

The Book Thief Chapter 33

By Markus Zusak

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Chapter 33

Liesel's Lecture

  • Death tells us that Rosa and Hans are hard people to figure out.
  • They are certainly in a very scary, very dangerous situation now.
  • Death comments:
    When a Jew shows up at your place of residence in the early hours of the morning, in the very birthplace of Nazism, you're likely to experience extreme levels of discomfort. Anxiety, disbelief, paranoia. (33.4)
  • (Molching is not far from Munich, and there are quite a few reasons to consider Munich the metaphorical "birthplace of Nazism." See "Setting" for discussion.)
  • Yet, the Hubermanns fight back "the urge for hysteria" (33.6).
  • Calmly, Rosa sends Liesel back to her room.
  • Hans comes to tuck her in shortly thereafter.
  • He asks her if she's okay, and she says she is.
  • Hans tells her that the visitor will sleep in her room tonight (in the bed originally meant for her brother Werner).
  • Max makes his way to the bed with utmost quiet, almost like a ghost.
  • Now Hans is asking Max if he's okay. We are told:
    The reply floated from his mouth, then molded itself like a stain to the ceiling. Such was his feeling of shame. "Yes. Thank you." (33.15)
  • Hans moves to his chair by Liesel's bed.
  • It takes Liesel an hour to reach sleep, but when she makes it, her sleep is deep.
  • At half past eight in the morning, Liesel learns she's staying home sick from school today.
  • She watches the sleeping stranger, the quietest sleeper ever.
  • She's a little nervous because the kitchen is so quiet.
  • And when Rosa tells Liesel that Hans is going to have a talk with her today (and she had better listen up) she doesn't even call Liesel Saumensch.
  • Now Liesel is really worried!
  • When Liesel doesn't answer, Rosa says, "Is that clear, Saumensch" (33.25).
  • Now that's more like it, thinks Liesel.
  • Liesel goes to get her clothes from the bedroom, and she looks at Max a little more.
  • Rosa yells at her to hurry up and she does.
  • Papa asks her to come to the basement for their talk, and she follows him down.
  • Liesel sits on a pile of drop sheets, and Hans sit on a paint can.
  • He explains that he wasn't sure Max was really coming, and that's why he didn't talk to Liesel about it earlier.
  • He tells her the story of the accordion. Death says,
    [Hans] explain[s] World War I and Erik Vandenburg, and then the visit to the fallen soldier's wife. "The boy who came into the room that day is the man upstairs. Verstehst? Understand?" (33.40)
  • Hans asks Liesel if she remembers her promise to Hans on Hitler's birthday.
  • She does remember her promise to "keep a secret" (33.47).
  • Hans tells her that if she tells anybody about Max, "At the very least, Mama and I will be taken away" (33.48).
  • Hans knows he has to say whatever it takes to make sure Liesel keeps the secret.
  • If she tells anybody, Hans will burn all her books.
  • Liesel is on the verge of crying.
  • After that, Liesel will be taken from Hans.
  • He asks her if she wants this to happen.
  • She sobs, a no.
  • He's holding her hand hard and says, "They'll drag that man up there away, and maybe Mama and me, too—and we will never, ever come back" (33.62).
  • The flood gates are loosed—Liesel's crying is beyond intense. Papa wants to hug her but he holds back.
  • He asks if she comprehends the situation.
  • She says she does, she really does.
  • Now, he hugs her and comforts her.
  • Back upstairs Rosa looks like she's thinking. When she sees the evidence of crying on Liesel's face, Rosa hugs her, hard.
  • For Liesel, everything is "good" but also "awful" (33.70-71).

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