Study Guide

The Book Thief Chapter 56

By Markus Zusak

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Chapter 56

The Sky Stealer

  • That air raid was actually a false alarm.
  • No bombing occurs.
  • But, the next air raid, the air raid of September 19, 1942, is very real.
  • The radio alerts them this time.
  • Again, the people of Himmel Street make their way to the Fielders' basement.
  • Again, Hans leaves behind the accordion, for good luck.
  • In the basement, Rosa holds Liesel's hand so tightly she has to ask Rosa to stop.
  • Liesel who has, again, brought all her books, begins reading aloud from The Whistler.
  • Rudy is the first to start listening, but soon everybody is.
  • Liesel realizes that her reading is, for these people, like Hans' accordion-playing is for her—very comforting.
  • As she reads, she thinks of Max and reading to him when he was sick.
  • She wonders if he's "stealing a glimpse of sky again" (56.22).
  • After some time, the sirens alert them that the air-raid is over.
  • Liesel calmly finished the paragraph she's reading.
  • We are given the fourth word from Liesel's dictionary, "Wort – Word" (56.29).
  • As they are leaving, people thank Liesel for reading to them.
  • The bombs haven't reached Himmel Street.
  • At home, they gather around Max in the basement.
  • Hans tells him everything that happened.
  • Rosa prompts Hans to tell about Liesel reading The Whistler to the people.
  • Death thinks that when Max imagines Liesel reading to the people in the bomb shelter, he gets the idea for the title piece in his book, The Word Shaker.
  • Liesel asks Max if he peeked out at the sky this time.
  • He didn't.
  • Death doesn't know about Hans and Rosa, but he knows what's in Liesel's mind:
    [I]f the bombs ever landed on Himmel Street not only did Max have less chance for survival […], but he would die completely alone. (56.46)

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