Summary and Analysis
Part 8: The Word Shaker: The Promise Keeper's Wife
The night before Hans is to leave for training, he and Alex Steiner go to the Knoller where the owner allows them to drink for free. Hans returns home very drunk and cannot get his key to fit in the lock. He calls for Rosa only to discover that he's at Frau Holtzapfel's home. After he does make it inside, he goes to Liesel's room and watches her sleep. She thinks it's Max for a second and asks, then realizes it's her Papa. The next morning, Rosa finds Hans in the basement asleep on drop sheets. She throws a bucket of cold water on him. That afternoon, the Steiners come over to say goodbye; Alex will leave in four days. Liesel and Rosa go with Hans to the train station. He tells Liesel to look after his accordion and to keep reading during the air raids.
Himmel Street is not the same. Everyone's hearts are heavy. Weeks pass and Rudy comes over to Liesel's house and asks if she's coming with him. She doesn't know where they are going, but she follows. They walk for miles, and she finally asks where they're heading. Rudy says he's going to kill the Führer. It's getting dark. Liesel turns around and Rudy's angry. Eventually, he catches up with her and they finish their walk home, pausing to relive some of their memories. Rosa and Barbara Steiner are waiting for them, worried and angry, when they return. That same night, Liesel wakes to find Rosa sitting on the edge of her bed with Hans's accordion pressed to her chest. She remains like this and falls asleep this way, snoring.
This chapter serves not only to describe the changes that have come to Himmel Street, but also to provide a bit more examination of Rosa Hubermann's character. She tries to remain strong around those she loves, which she demonstrates by dumping cold water on Hans to get him up and ready for his train ride. But after he leaves, Liesel sees her in a softened state, holding Hans's accordion to her body. Liesel can see the great amount of love that she has for Hans, how worried she is about him. This chapter shows a rare look at Rosa's vulnerability.
It also shows the anger that's growing in Rudy, how he would like to take on the Führer in much the same way that Max used to take him on in his dreams.