Summary and Analysis
Part 5: The Whistler:
Three Acts of Stupidity by Rudy Steiner
First, Rudy attempts to steal one of the biggest potatoes at Mamer's, the local grocery store. A group of women point him out, and Thomas Mamer snags him by the scruff of his neck. Mamer tells his wife to call the police, but Rudy begs him not to and tells him how poor and hungry his family is. Rudy sees a teacher, Herr Link, in line at the store and asks him to tell Mamer about his poor family. Herr Link does, and exaggerates where necessary. Mamer lets Rudy go, but kicks him out of the store.
Second, Rudy refuses to answer correctly the date of Hitler's birth at the Hitler Youth meetings, and he continues to receive punishment from Franz Deutscher. A few days later, Rudy sees Franz with some of his friends walking along the sidewalk, and Rudy throws a rock at him. Liesel, Tommy, and Tommy's sister, Kristina, are there with Rudy. Franz gives Rudy a beating and cuts his hair with his knife.
Third, Rudy stops attending his Hitler Youth meetings. His parents begin to receive letters and beg him to go back because the Steiners will face fines if he doesn't attend. Eventually, Rudy, along with Tommy, is able to join a different division, the Flieger Division, where he can learn about aircraft and flying. In his new division, Rudy always gives the correct answer to Hitler's birth date.
This chapter illustrates Rudy's continued frustration with hunger, which prompts him to steal. It also showcases how much he despises Franz Deutscher and how stubborn Rudy can be when he knows he's standing up to someone like Deutscher, who is loathsome and cruel. The fight between Rudy and Franz parallels the fight between right and wrong, the fight between Max and Hitler.