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The Book Thief

Markus Zusak

Summary and Analysis Part 9: The Last Human Stranger: The Accident


Reinhold Zucker makes Hans give up his seat on the LSE truck. Hans does not feel like being petty, plus his seat in the back is the coldest spot, so he gives it up. While they're driving, the truck's left front tire blows, the driver loses control, and the truck rolls. Most of the men have minor injuries, but Zucker breaks his neck and dies. Hans realizes it should have been him. Hans finds out, too, that his leg is broken. His sergeant says that Hans is lucky he likes him and that he's been generous with the cigarettes because he's going to send Hans back to Munich to do office work.


This chapter fulfills what Death has already told us will happen, that Zucker will unwittingly save Hans's life. Just as Hans was lucky in World War I, he is very lucky here, too. Not only does he happen to not be in his regular seat during the accident, but he fortunately has been sharing his cigarettes and card winnings with those around him. Because he is well-liked, he is sent back to Munich.