The Book Thief By Markus Zusak Summary and Analysis Part 8: The Word Shaker: Dominoes and Darkness

Summary

Rudy's youngest sisters call the men at the table "two monsters." The men talk with Alex and Barbara Steiner while Rudy and his siblings play dominoes on the other side of the kitchen door. His siblings ask if they can knock them down; he says they'll do it together. They want him to light a candle so they can watch the dominoes fall by candlelight. Rudy goes to the door and listens.


The two men talk about Rudy's high scores in class and his athletic ability. Rudy is angry with himself for showing off at the carnival. The men promise Rudy certain privileges, but Alex and Barbara protest. Alex has heard the rumors about the brutality of the school where they want to take Rudy. Rudy leaves the door and goes back to his sisters. They each tap a domino and watch them fall. When the men leave, Rudy goes to the kitchen with his siblings. They want to know if Rudy's going to be sent away. Rudy will stay, but, Death reveals, had he gone, things might have been much easier on Alex Steiner, and Rudy might have lived.

Analysis

Just as the previous chapter shows the regret that Hans feels at having sent Max away, Death foreshadows the regret to come to the Steiner family. Barbara and Alex Steiner act to protect Rudy, which results in their unwittingly contributing to his death later in the story. Rudy, too, has regrets about his outstanding track performance on Hitler's birthday — had he not won so many races and had he not done so well in school, "the monsters" would never have come for him.

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