Summary and Analysis
Part 1: The Grave Digger's Handbook:
The Kiss (A Childhood Decision Maker)
Liesel plays soccer with the other kids of Himmel Street. Because she is new, they make her play goalie. Rudy, who rarely misses a penalty kick, takes one on Liesel and she stops it. Liesel walks with the Steiner children to school, and Rudy points out places and people along their walk. He shows her where the Jews live on Schiller Strasse, where the Star of David is painted on all of their doors. It's called "the road of yellow stars," and many of the homes have broken windows and damaged walls. Rudy races Liesel at Hubert Oval, the site of "The Jesse Owens Incident," a night when he painted himself black and ran the 100 meters at a playing field. He challenges Liesel to a race and says that if he wins, he gets to kiss her, but they tie.
Rudy and Liesel's close friendship begins in this chapter, as well as Rudy's long series of attempts to get Liesel to kiss him. Liesel begins to see more of how the Molching community has been affected by the Nazi Party, particularly by the destruction of Jewish homes and through the behavior of shopkeepers, like Frau Diller, who requires her customers to heil Hitler when they enter. Interestingly, Rudy's hero is Jesse Owens, the African-American track and field athlete who won four gold medals at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany, after which Hitler refused to shake Owens's hand.