The Book Thief By Markus Zusak Summary and Analysis Part 5: The Whistler: The Losers

Summary

Liesel and Rudy are ready to steal again. Their old friend, Andy Schmeikl, invites them to a gang meeting where they meet the new leader, Viktor Chemmel, who steals not because he needs to, but because hewants to. Chemmel says there's nothing wrong with wanting more — after all, that's what the Führersays. Liesel and Rudy don't like or trust Chemmel. They go with him to steal and the apple trees are in a pitiful state. Chemmel tries to give Liesel and Rudy one apple apiece and, when Rudy complains, Chemmel pins him to the ground. When Rudy leaves, he spits at Chemmel's feet; Chemmel says that he'll make Rudy pay at a later time.


Analysis

Victor Chemmel's character represents the qualities for which Adolf Hitler stands, qualities that Hitler perpetuates and encourages, a greediness that cannot be satiated. He follows Hitler's example of using cruelty and instilling fear in others in order to get what he wants. The other boys in the gang are either too afraid to speak up against Victor, or they share his mindset.

The sad state of the apple trees reflects the current situation on Himmel Street — the hunger, poverty, fear, and tension that exists under Hitler's rule.

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After Liesel steals a book from the bonfire, what does the burning book against Liesel's chest symbolize?





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