Study Guide

The Book Thief Chapter 42

By Markus Zusak

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Chapter 42

The Whistler and the Shoes

  • It's fall and Rudy has been having the same troubles at Hitler Youth.
  • It's late in October and Liesel sees Rudy coming, his face covered in what looks like mud.
  • Rudy tells Liesel to smell him. She realizes it's fertilizer (made from cow dung).
  • Franz, the Hitler Youth leader, made Rudy do push-ups in a newly fertilized field.
  • Between Hitler Youth and the Viktor Chemmel incident, he feels like a big fat loser.
  • He needs a little success. He feels the need to thieve.
  • Rudy and Liesel agree to meet the next day to pull some job or other.
  • At first, they can't think of anyone or anything to rob.
  • Then Liesel gets an idea.
  • She takes him to the mayor's house.
  • She expects the library window to be open, but it's closed.
  • Unfortunately, they will have to watch the place for a few days, until the time is right.
  • A week passes and then—they find the window open.
  • Liesel is both relieved, and terrified.
  • Rudy wants her to get some food for him, but she has other ideas.
  • She wants to steal The Whistler.
  • Leaving her shoes with Rudy, she goes in through the window and grabs the book.
  • Uh oh. She hears people walking on the floor above her. Rudy sees a light come on.
  • She makes her way out the window, and they run.
  • When they stop a safe distance away, Rudy sees the book and realizes that Liesel didn't even try to get him any food.
  • Liesel realizes that Rudy has left her shoes behind outside the mayor's window.
  • Ashamed, Rudy tells Liesel to wait and then goes back for her shoes.
  • After what seems like forever, he comes back successful and smiling.
  • He asks for a kiss but Liesel refuses, again.
  • Rudy asks what The Whistler is about, and she tells him it's about a killer on the run from the police.
  • When Rudy leaves Liesel at her door he says, "Goodbye Saumensch. […] Good night, book thief" (42.137).
  • This is the moment Liesel officially gets her nickname. She likes it a lot.

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