Summary and Analysis Part 4: The Standover Man: Pages from the Basement



For a week, Hans and Rosa keep Liesel out of the basement because they know that Max is making a surprise for her — a book. Downstairs, Max paints white over the pages of Mein Kampf and hangs them up to dry. Then, in black, he paints a 13-page story with words and drawings. He paints himself as a bird since he remembers Liesel saying his hair is like feathers. The book is the story of his friendship with Liesel and he titles it The Standover Man, the pages of which are included in the novel. Max leaves it in Liesel's room when he is finished. Inside the book, Liesel finds the story and illustrations of Max's journey to Himmel Street, his anxiety during this trip, his bad dreams, and how he and his friend, Liesel, have many things in common, like their bad dreams. They help one another by talking about their nightmares, and Max writes about the gift that Liesel gives to him on her birthday — a hug. He finishes by writing that Liesel, a young girl, has been the best standover man he's known. When she's finished reading, Liesel goes downstairs to thank Max. He is asleep so she sits with him and watches over him.


Through The Standover Man, Max illustrates how he feels about Liesel, and their affection for and understanding of one another grow. The fact that Max chooses to paint this story over the pages of Mein Kampf symbolizes how the story of Max and Liesel's relationship and are more powerful than Hitler's story. In many ways, Liesel saves Max by offering him her love and friendship during a time when the Nazi Party is hunting him, forcing him into hiding.