Study Guide

The Book Thief Chapter 54

By Markus Zusak

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Chapter 54

The Trilogy

  • Liesel works with Hans, and Rudy runs. He's in deep training for the upcoming Hitler Youth carnival in August.
  • He wants to win all four races, out of desire to do well for his new Hitler Youth leaders, who are kind to him. He also really wants to stick it to Franz Deutscher (the old Hitler Youth leader).
  • Rudy wins the first race, the 1500 meter race.
  • Liesel isn't doing too well in any of the events; she's happy to leave the glory for Rudy.
  • He gets second place in the 100 meter race.
  • Now it's time for the last race, the 400 meter.
  • The boys line up.
  • Rudy is fooling around in the dirt and is scolded by an official.
  • Next, Rudy starts running before the second starter-shot is fired. He's given another official warning.
  • Three strikes and he's out.
  • He false-starts again, and Liesel can't quite believe it. She's been picturing him winning.
  • Afterwards, Liesel and Rudy sit and talk about everything but his disqualification from the final race.
  • He tells her, "I did it on purpose" (54.62).
  • Liesel asks why, but Rudy just smiles.
  • She would never be able to figure out it out.
  • After Rudy leaves her, Liesel finds three fake-gold medals and hurries to give them back to Rudy.
  • He implies that he left them for her on purpose.
  • Liesel takes the medals to the basement and tells Max about Rudy.
  • While Max works on his book, Liesel reads The Dream Carrier. She thinks she'll finish soon.
  • The next book she steals from the mayor's library is called A Song in the Dark.
  • Liesel steals it one morning, alone.
  • Feeling good to be by herself, she reads by the Amper River.
  • In another week the third thing, the completion of the trilogy, happens.
  • Toward the end of August, Liesel gets a gift. Rudy points it out to her. There's something against the closed window of the mayor's wife's library. It's a book—The Complete Duden Dictionary and Thesaurus.
  • (Duden is a real publisher of reference books. Click here for more information).
  • Liesel grabs it and they begin to leave.
  • But, Liesel feels like she's being watched. She turns to look in the window and is frightened by the sight of the mayor's wife, Ilsa Hermann, in the library.
  • The mayor's wife has her hand up.
  • Liesel waves back.
  • We are given the second word from the dictionary: "Verzeihung – Forgiveness" (54.115).
  • Liesel and Rudy stop to check out the book before they go home.
  • There's a letter inside to Liesel.
  • Ilsa says she knows Liesel has been stealing books from her, but she isn't mad.
  • She's hopes Liesel will start coming to the door again, instead of sneaking through the window.
  • She apologizes to Liesel for having to stop using Rosa's laundry service.
  • Finally, Ilsa hopes Liesel puts the dictionary to good use.
  • Liesel leaves the book with Rudy and goes back to 8 Grande Strasse and sits on the mayor's steps.
  • She wants to knock on the door, but she can't.
  • Her brother Werner comes to her and tells her to knock.
  • Running away from the mayor's she feels "criminal" (54.134) because she can't tell Ilsa she's sorry.
  • She feels guilty about her happiness.
  • Rudy and Liesel ride home, finishing summer and starting fall.
  • The bombing of Munich will soon be upon them.

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