Study Guide

The Book Thief Chapter 7

By Markus Zusak

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Chapter 7

The Woman with the Iron Fist

  • Liesel's first months are difficult. She has bad dreams about her brother Werner every night, and often wakes up screaming.
  • Hans comes every night to comfort her. Some nights he gets his accordion and plays for her until Rosa screams, "STOP THAT NOISE, SAUKERL!" (7.11).
  • Sometimes, he even plays the accordion at breakfast.
  • Liesel prefers the daytime to the night, because the nightmares of Werner can't come. Still, she thinks of him during the day and hides in the washroom when the tears come.
  • She keeps the The Grave Digger's Handbook, "her last link to [Werner]," (7.17) beneath the mattress of her bed.
  • When she looks at the words, she doesn't know what they mean. For her, the book is a symbol of her last moments with Werner and her mother.
  • She feels so lonely.
  • The Hubermanns have children, but they are grown. Hans, Jr. works in Munich and will soon go to war. Trudy is a nanny and housekeeper. She will soon go to work in a munitions factory (where bullets and ammunition for the war are produced).
  • School is awful for Liesel.
  • She can't read and is put in classes with much younger children.
  • Mama and Papa didn't seem to be able to help—Rosa has a third grade education and Hans a fourth grade education.
  • Soon Death will tell us how all that will change. After "a bedwetting incident nightmare" (7.30), a late-night reading class will begin for Liesel.
  • Liesel turns ten in the middle of February and has to start going to Hitler Youth.
  • (You'll hear more about Hitler Youth in the novel, but if you want some background information and history click here.)
  • Liesel often goes with Rosa to pick up and deliver the washing.
  • Rosa always curses those rich people for being too lazy to do their own laundry.
  • One of the houses, 8 Grande Strasse, is where the mayor and his wife live. Rosa saves her worst curses for this house. She says the mayor is a crook and his wife is insane.
  • Rosa makes Liesel go to the door.
  • Liesel spends her evenings with Rosa in the kitchen while Rosa does the ironing.
  • Rosa is in a long-time feud with one of the neighbors, Frau Holtzapfel. Holtzapfel spits on the Hubermanns' door every night and yells "Schweine!" (7.84) (swine).
  • Liesel has to clean it off.
  • Death tells us that, "When a women with an iron fist tells you to get out there and clean spit off the door, you do it" (7.88).
  • Liesel always looks at the stars when she goes out.
  • Sometimes they look like they're floating, and sometimes they look like they're sinking.

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