Study Guide

The Book Thief Chapter 71

By Markus Zusak

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Chapter 71

The Snows Of Stalingrad

  • It's mid-January, 1943.
  • When Liesel goes to Frau Holtzapfel's house to read to her, a man answers the door.
  • She doesn't think he's one of her sons, because he looks too old and not like the picture Liesel's seen.
  • One of his hands is covered in bandages, and Liesel can see blood seeping through.
  • He tells Liesel to come later, or, better yet, he'll come to her house.
  • When he comes, she asks him about his hand.
  • Explosives took three of his fingers in Stalingrad, Russia, where he was fighting for Germany.
  • He tells Liesel how much colder and snowier it is there than her in Molching, and it's cold here in Molching.
  • He has trouble lighting a cigarette.
  • Liesel lights it for him, after he gives her some tips.
  • He introduces himself to her. He's Michael Holtzapfel, Frau Holtzapfel's son.
  • He's come to see if Liesel will read to his mother now.
  • Rosa appears and is shocked to see him. She's known him all his life.
  • He blurts out that his brother has died.
  • Rosa is visibly stunned.
  • She says she's sorry, and then Michael asks to take Liesel to read to his mother.
  • Rosa agrees.
  • Michael tells her that he's seen her son, alive, in Stalingrad.
  • Before she can get into a long conversation with him about it, he tries to hurry out.
  • Liesel isn't sure she should leave Rosa, but Rosa tells her to go.
  • Michael tells Liesel that his hand just keeps bleeding, no matter what he does.
  • Frau Holtzapfel has a tear-stained face, and Liesel reads to her.
  • Death knows about this scene, because he reads about it in Liesel's book (The Book Thief).
  • He knows how Robert Holtzapfel died, because he was there at the hospital in Stalingrad, where Michael watched Robert take his last breath.
  • Roberts legs "were blown off at the shins" (72.43) on January 5, 1943.
  • Dead Germans and Russians were everywhere.
  • Death was there too.
  • Death saw Robert, but didn't take him until three days later in the hospital.
  • The sky was like one of Hans drop sheets, but full of red.
  • Now Liesel reads to Frau Holtzapfel while she cries, and her living son "shivers" (72.67).
  • Liesel is glad she's "good for something in the aftermath of the snows of Stalingrad" (72.69).

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