Summary and Analysis Part 2: The Shoulder Shrug: Dead Letters



Liesel continues to write letters to her mother, but she has mailed only the first one, though. Her birthday comes. Rosa is still losing washing and ironing jobs and Hans is out of tobacco, so Liesel doesn't expect to receive a birthday present. She doesn't. She gives herself a present, though, by taking some of the washing money and mailing her letters in one group. Rosa finds out and hits her with a spoon, after which Liesel admits why she used the money. At that moment, Liesel realizes she'll never see her mother again. Rosa apologizes, but not for hitting her, Liesel realizes. Liesel lies on the dark floor and cries a yellow tear. Later, when she writes about this night, she remembers all the darkness, how even Hans's accordion music had sounded dark that night, and she thinks that if it had, in fact, been so dark in the kitchen, then she would not have been able to see a yellow tear. She remains sure, however, that her tear was yellow, that a bit of lightness was present during such a dark time in her life.


Again, Hans rescues Liesel from her dark place with his accordion. Also, Liesel recognizes many of the elements that Death discusses, this idea of the murkiness of humans and the lives they live. There is a blend of lightness and darkness in the world and within people, and Liesel experiences it in this chapter. While she sits in the dark kitchen, during a moment in her life when everything feels dark, she is still able to find lightness, a yellow tear. It is important to note, too, that the only bright object in this scene comes from Liesel herself; she serves as the source of this lightness and struggles to understand what it means, recognizing that oftentimes lightness and darkness are so closely intertwined. . Death alludes to how this recognition will help her in the future, particularly on Hitler's birthday when she steals her second book. This chapter begins Liesel's preparation for all of the complicated and challenging events to come.