Study Guide

The Book Thief Chapter 8

By Markus Zusak

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Chapter 8

The Kiss (A Childhood Decision Maker)

  • Mostly poor people live on Himmel Street, including a boy named Tommy Mueller, Frau Diller, who is a Nazi store owner, and a foul mouthed man called "Pfiffikus," who whistles all the time—the name means "whistler."
  • The people next door to the Hubermanns are the Steiners. Their son, Rudy Steiner, will "soon become Liesel's best friend, and, later, her partner […] in crime" (8.9).
  • Liesel and Rudy meet outside, the first time Liesel plays soccer on the street with the neighborhood kids. Liesel is made goalie.
  • Rudy is an excellent soccer player, but Liesel wards off his ball with her elbow.
  • Then Rudy hits her in the face with a muddy snowball. She calls him a "Saukerl" (8.20).
  • Rudy turned ten eight months earlier than Liesel.
  • He has "bony legs, sharp teeth, gangly blue eyes, and hair the color of a lemon" (8.21).
  • Since he has five brothers and sisters, he's always very hungry.
  • People think he's a little bit insane because of what most people call "'The Jesse Owens Incident," "in which he painted himself charcoal black and ran 100 meters at the local playing field one night" (8.21).
  • (You'll read all about this in the next chapter. If you want a Jessie Owens preview, click here.)
  • Soon, Liesel starts walking with the Steiners to school. Rudy likes being around girls, and he really likes Liesel—which is why he hit her in the face with the snowball.
  • When they are walking, Rudy shows Liesel Tommy Mueller's house.
  • Tommy "twitches" (8.35), because he got lost in the cold for hours when he was five years old, and developed horrible ear infections requiring multiple surgeries.
  • Rudy points out Frau Diller's shop. When you go in there, you have to be sure and say "heil Hitler" (8.32) or she won't serve you.
  • Death tells us that Frau Diller "lived for her shop and her shop lived for the Third Reich" (8.32).
  • She has a framed picture of Hitler, and she gives her money to the Nazi party.
  • When Rudy comes to his father's tailor's shop—though Liesel can't read, so doesn't know it's his father's tailor shop—he introduces her to his father.
  • Then they come to "The road of yellow stars" (8.42).
  • The houses on this road have been vandalized and yellow stars are painted on their walls.
  • (In Nazi Germany, Jews had to wear yellow stars on their clothing, and to mark their houses with yellow stars as well—because the Star of David is a prominent Jewish symbol.)
  • Rudy is always around Liesel, even though the other kids make fun of her because she can't read.
  • One day, he challenges her to a hundred-meter race. If he wins, he wants to kiss her.
  • She agrees, on the condition that if she wins, she won't have to be goalie in the soccer games.
  • But, the track is super muddy, and they both fall in the mud.
  • They call it a draw, and so Liesel doesn't let Rudy kiss her.
  • He says, "One day, Liesel […], you'll be dying to kiss me" (8.88).
  • Liesel "vow[s]" (8.89) to herself that this will never happen.
  • Then she goes home to face Rosa and is punished for her muddy clothes.

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