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The Book Thief Characters and quotes
all the characters sparknotes gives you!
Terms in this set (69)
The narrator of the story, expresses weariness and remorse about having to collect so many souls
changes from an angry, distrusting character to one who deeply loves her family and friends. By the end of the book she has a strong personal moral code, and is not afraid to endanger herself to enforce it.
Liesel's stepfather, his strong sense of right and wrong causes him to act against his own best interests.
Liesel's stepmother, beneath her tough exterior she is in fact kind and caring.
cautious and withdrawn. As he grows stronger, he reveals his tremendous rage towards Hitler, which motivates him to stay alive no matter what. Of all the characters, he most understands Liesel's experience, and the two become not just friends but soul mates.
Liesel's best friend. With his blond hair, blue eyes, and athletic and intellectual talents, he's the physical embodiment of the perfect Aryan specimen, but he has surprising sensitivity and compassion. He is in love with Liesel and is always there for her.
Rudy's father, inability to sacrifice his son to the Nazi training camp results in his being drafter into the army. At the end of the book, he is filled remorse for having survived the war while his family died.
The mayor's wife, so shattered by the death of her son she can barely function as a person, but once she begins interacting with Liesel, she opens up and show sensitivity and concern.
Hubermanns' neighbor. She initially comes across as mean and uncharitable, as she has an ongoing feud with Rosa Hubermann and is rude to Liesel, but she turns out to be extremely vulnerable after the death of her son.
Frau Holtzapfel's son, who survives the war. destroyed by guilt over having survived, and wanting to continue living.
brother who dies in Russia
Owner of the candy store. One of the most patriotic figures in the book, she is a rule-follower and a mean, ungenerous character. She embodies the Hitler ideal of the "good" German who blindly follows orders.
Hans Hubermann, Junior
Rosa's and Hans's son. Like Frau Diller, he is deeply patriotic, and unquestioning in his faith in Hitler and the regime. He and his father do not get along.
Rosa and Hans's daughter. She is not present in the novel, but it's clear that she and her parents are not close.
Liesel and Rudy's classmate. Physically weak because of his bad ears, he is often pathetic and pitiable.
The first leader of the apple-stealing gang. Tough but fair, he shares the loot equally with the other kids.
The man who helps Max escape, is brave like Max. They began as fighting partners growing up, but soon became friends
The leader of Rudy's Hitler Youth group. A sadist who represents the Nazi ideal, he takes special pleasure in tormenting and humiliating Rudy.
The second leader of the apple-stealing gang. Like Franz, he is a sadist who exploits his own power.
The man who trades seats with Hans on the bus, saving his life. His temper gets him killed.
Rudy Steiner, saving the book for Liesel
"A book floated down the Amper River.
A boy jumped in, caught up to it, and held
it in his right hand. He grinned. He stood
waist-deep in the icy, Decemberish water.
"How about a kiss, Saumensch?" he said."
"He stood a few meters from the step and spoke with great conviction, great joy.
"Alles ist Scheisse," he announced.
All is shit."
Who did Liesel Meminger think she was, telling him she had to take the washing and ironing alone today? Wasn't he good enough to walk the streets with her?
Rudy Steiner, when Liesel gets him to not do the laundry with her
I just feel bad. You're missing the game."
He looked over his shoulder.
"Well, if you put it like that." There was a Schmunzel. "You can stick your washing."
He ran off and wasted no time joining a team. When Liesel made it to the top of Himmel Street, she looked back just in time to see him standing in front of the nearest makeshift goals. He was waving.
"Saukerl," she laughed, and as she held up her hand, she knew completely that he was simultaneously calling her a Saumensch. I think that's as close to love as eleven-year-olds can get."
Rudy Steiner, when throwing the rock at Franz Deutscher
"You might well ask just what the hell he was thinking. The answer is, probably nothing at all.He'd probably say he was exercising his God-given right to stupidity."
Liesel, about Rudy
As long as both she and Rudy lived, she would never kiss that miserable, filthy Saukerl.
Liesel, about Hans
Sometimes I think my papa is an accordion. When he looks at me and smiles and breathes, I hear the notes.
the mayor's wife's library
Books everywhere! Each wall was armed with overcrowded yet immaculate shelving. It was barely possible to see the paintwork. There were all different styles and sizes of lettering on the spines of the black, the red, the gray, the every-colored books. It was one of the most beautiful things Liesel Meminger had ever seen.
With wonder, she smiled.
That such a room existed!
Liesel, the last words in her book
"I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right."
"You want to know what I truly look like? I'll help you out. Find yourself a mirror while I continue."
"they" are the apple stealing gang
"They had no qualms about stealing, but they needed to be told. They liked to be told, and Viktor Chemmel liked to be the teller."
"her" is Ilsa Hermann, when Liesel yells at her for firing them
"Blood leaked from her nose and licked at her lips. Her eyes had blackened. Cuts had opened up and a series of wounds were rising to the surface of her skin. All from words. From Liesel's words."
"Mystery bores me. It chores me. I know what happens and so do you. It's the machinations that wheel us there that aggravate, perplex, interest, and astound me."
Death, the last line of the novel
"I am haunted by humans."
Liesel's six-year-old brother who dies at the beginning of the book
Max's father who served in World War I with Hans
Woman from the foster care agency who facilitates the transfer of Liesel to the Hubermanns.
An ornery old man with a habit of whistling.
taunts Liesel for not being able to read, and Liesel beats him up
Mayor of Molching and Ilsa's husband.
Ilsa's son who froze to death in 1918, presumably while fighting in World War I.
An older boy who introduces Liesel and Rudy to the gang of thieves when Arthur Berg was their leader.
A classmate of Liesel's who delivers food to the church every week. Liesel and Rudy knock him off his bicycle and rob him.
Hans' Sergeant in World War I.
A shop owner who catches Rudy for trying to steal a potato and threatens to call the police, but lets him go when he is convinced of how poor Rudy is.
Rudy's older brother.
Sergeant of the Air Raid Special Unit, of which Hans becomes a member.
Death, when he takes Liesel's soul
"I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her about those things that she didn't already know? I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race-that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant."
Lisel kisses Rudy after he dies
He tasted dusty and sweet. He tasted like regret in the shadows of trees and in the glow of the anarchist's suit collection. She kissed him long and soft, and when she pulled herself away, she touched his mouth with her fingers...She did not say goodbye. She was incapable, and after a few more minutes at his side, she was able to tear herself from the ground.
Death says this after Liesel leaves Rudy's dead body on the street
It amazes me what humans can do, even when streams are flowing down their faces and they stagger on...
Death, on war
"A small but noteworthy note. I've seen so many young men over the years who think they're running at other young men. They are not. They are running at me."
Death takes Hans' soul :(
"His soul sat up. It met me. Those kinds of souls always do - the best ones. The ones who rise up and say "I know who you are and I am ready. Not that I want to go, of course, but I will come." Those souls are always light because more of them have been put out. More of them have already found their way to other places."
Death takes Rudy's soul (NOOO)
I carried him softly through the broken street...with him I tried a little harder. I watched the contents of his soul for a moment and saw a black-painted boy calling the name Jesse Owens as he ran through an imaginary tape. I saw him hip-deep in some icy water, chasing a book, and I saw a boy lying in bed, imagining how a kiss would taste from his glorious next-door neighbor. He does something to me, that boy. Every time. It's his only detriment. He steps on my heart. He makes me cry
Rudy is scared to kiss Liesel!
I think he was afraid. He was scared of the book thief's kiss. He must have longed for it so much. He must have loved her so incredibly hard. So hard that he would never ask for her lips again and would go to his grave without them.
Liesel thinks this after she has a mini-fight with Rudy, and remembers how she's lost her brother, Papa, and Max
"My heart is so tired"
Liesel gets mad at Rudy
"You think you're the only one, Saukerl?"
She turned away. "And you only lost your father. . . ."
"Often I wish this would all be over, Liesel, but then somehow you do something like walk down the basement steps with a snowman in your hands."
Arthur Berg says this when Liesel brags she's stolen two books
"You can't eat books, sweetheart."
max's written sentence when Liesel describes the weather
"It was a Monday and they walked on a tightrope to the sun."
RUDY STEINER IS DEAD
"On many counts, taking a boy like Rudy Steiner was robbery--so much life, so much to live for--yet somehow, I'm certain he would have loved to see the frightening rubble and the swelling of the sky on the night he passed away. He'd have cried and turned and smiled if only he could have seen the book thief on her hands and knees, next to his decimated body. He'd have been glad to witness her kissing his dusty, bomb-hit lips.
Yes, I know it.
In the darkness of my dark-beating heart, I know. He'd have loved it all right.
Even death has a heart."
"he" is Rudy
"In years to come, he would be a giver of bread, not a stealer - proof again of the contradictory human being. So much good, so much evil. Just add water."
The human heart is a line, whereas my own is a circle, and I have the endless ability to be in the right place at the right time.
Max's internal pep talk on the train to Himmel Street, talking about Mein Kampf
"You cannot be afraid, Read the book. Smile at it. It's a great book-the greatest book you've ever read."
Liesel is talking to Max in the parade of Jews
"There was once a strange, small man,"she said. Her arms were loose but her hands were fists at her side. "But there was a word shaker,too."
"When death captures me," the boy vowed, "he will feel my fist in his face."
"Make no mistake, the woman had a heart. She had a bigger one that people would think. There was a lot in it, stored up, high in miles of hidden shelving. Remember that she was the woman with the instrument strapped to her body in the long, moon-slit night."
Death, talking about war
war is like the new boss who expects the impossible. He stands over your shoulder repeating one thin, incessantly: 'Get it done, get it done.' So you work harder. You get the job done. The boss, however, does not thank you. He asks for more.
Liesel throws a tantrum
The words. Why did they have to exist? Without them, there wouldn't be any of this. Without words, the Führer was nothing. There would be no limping prisoners, no need for consolation or wordly tricks to make us feel better.
What good were the words?
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