Part 8 Summary

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The officers talk to the Steiners in their kitchen and try to convince the family that Rudy’s service would be an honor to the country. Rudy and his sisters play dominoes in the other room, and before Rudy can intervene, the officers leave. At school, Rudy and his classmates are stripped naked and inspected by a nurse who exclaims that Germany is creating a new generation of physically and mentally advanced citizens. When Rudy tells Liesel the story, she cannot stop thinking about it.

Meanwhile, Hans continues to feel guilty about his actions that led to Max’s having to leave, and then one day his formal punishment arrives—he is accepted into the Nazi Party and drafted into the army. Later Liesel learns that Rudy’s father was also drafted because they refused to allow Rudy to join the Party. The evening before they leave home, Alex Steiner and Hans Hubermann get themselves very drunk, and Hans goes to the wrong house on his way home. Once inside the house, Hans goes into the basement. The next morning, Liesel and Rosa find him asleep on drop sheets on the floor—he felt he did not deserve to sleep in Max’s old bed. Hans leaves on the train to fulfill his service with low spirits.

Rudy is upset by his father’s having to leave, so he fetches Liesel and tells her he wants to go find his father. Liesel knows this is a ridiculous stunt, so she leaves Rudy’s side to march back home. He catches up to her, and Liesel feels that her heart is tired from so much hurt. When Liesel and Rudy arrive back on Himmel Street, Rosa and Ms. Steiner are waiting out in the street, and both are visibly angry. Later that night, Liesel is awakened by a loud noise. When she pursues it, she finds Rosa in bed with Hans’s accordion strapped to her chest. Liesel knows there will be many more nights like this to come.

Neither Alex Steiner nor Hans Hubermann are sent into battle: Alex is set to repair uniforms, and Hans is put on the Air Raid Special Unit, which he will later find out is more appropriately named the Dead Body Collector Unit. Soon Hans realizes that he needs to learn the art of forgetting.

Back at home, Liesel cannot forget, and her days are consumed by thoughts of the well-being of Max, Alex, and Hans. The Nazi soldiers again march a group of prisoners through the streets of Molching on the way to Dachau. Rudy wants to help but has learned from Hans’s mistake, so he runs well ahead of the line of prisoners and plants a pile of bread on the ground. As the prisoners walk by, they see the treasure and fill their bellies.

Shortly before Christmas, another raid occurs. When Rosa and Liesel come out of hiding and return home, Rosa retrieves Max Vandenburg’s sketchbook and tells Liesel that Max wanted her to have it when she was ready. Inside, Max has written about his family and his thoughts on the Fuhrer; on page 117, his fable, The Word Shaker, begins. It is a story about the power of words. That night, Liesel wonders where in the world Max has gone.

Liesel continues to think about The Word Shaker, and she makes a decision regarding Rudy Steiner: she will give him a Christmas gift. They go to Alex Steiner’s old shop, and Rudy puts on one of the suits. He trips and lands on the floor; hovering over him, Liesel asks him if he is all right, while Death hopes she will kiss him. She helps him get off the floor and wishes him a Merry Christmas.

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