Study Guide

The Book Thief Chapter 78

By Markus Zusak

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Chapter 78

The Ninety-Eighth Day

  • Hans has been home for ninety-seven days and everything is okay for Liesel.
  • Things change on the ninety-eighth day.
  • A few days before this, another procession of Jews comes through Molching.
  • This time they are coming from the death-camp Dachau, on their way to do some clean-up that was too awful even for the LSE men.
  • They proceed through the town on their way back that evening.
  • Max is not among them, but in August, he will be.
  • When he comes he'll be looking for Liesel, and she will be looking for him.
  • Before this, on the ninety-eighth day, Liesel is looking for him, too.
  • On July 24, something bad happens.
  • Death comes to Himmel Street for Michael Holtzapfel, who hangs himself at around six in the morning on July 27, 1943.
  • Death doesn't see Liesel on this day.
  • Death is very busy right now and doesn't have time to stay on Himmel Street.
  • Death doesn't see Frau Holtzapfel collapse in despair on the street.
  • But, Death reads about these things in a few months, in a book called The Book Thief.
  • In this book, Death reads that Michael kills himself because he feels guilty for being alive.
  • Liesel will learn that Michael had stopped sleeping.
  • He leaves a note, apologizing to his mother. He loves her, but needs to be with his dead brother Robert.
  • Hans is the person who tells Frau Holtzapfel about Michael. It's about six months after Robert's death.
  • After she gets the news, she runs up Himmel Street, crying, until she can't move anymore and sits in the street.
  • Hans sits down next to her and holds her hand while she screams.
  • Later, he walks her gently home.

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