Summary and Analysis Part 2: The Shoulder Shrug: 100 Percent Pure German Sweat


Later that same day, on Hitler's birthday, Liesel marches with the Hitler Youth divisions and gathers around the bonfire to watch them burn enemy propaganda. A man in a Nazi uniform stands behind a podium and shouts a speech, warning the crowd to protect themselves against those who are destroying Germany. He names Jews and communists, and Liesel thinks of her father, mother, and brother.


With the power of a single word, Kommunisten, Liesel begins to see who took not only her father away but also her mother and brother. This chapter illustrates how a single word can have a powerful impact. The Nazi Party can cheer alongside a pile of burning books, but Liesel will still seek out these words — and the ideas — that the Nazi Party wants to keep out of her mind. The book burning further serves to show how the Nazi Party recognizes the power of words; not only does the man behind the podium invigorate the crowd with his anti-Semitic and anti-communist speech, but he also represents the entire Nazi Party and its attempt to keep people from words and ideas that contradict those of Hitler's regime.

Pop Quiz!

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

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