“I traveled the globe as always, handing souls to the conveyor belt of eternity” (Part One, “Arrival on Himmel Street,” p. 23).
The narrator Death describes his job of taking the souls of the dying.
“The Star of David was painted on their doors. Those houses were almost like lepers” (Part One, “The Kiss,” p. 51).
Rudy shows Liesel the road of yellow stars in Molching. Jews are
segregated and treated as though they are an infection in Germany that
must be eradicated.
“it was the stealing that cemented their friendship completely. It was brought about by one opportunity, and it was driven by one inescapable force—Rudy's hunger” (Part Three, “The Attributes of Summer,” p. 149).
Rudy and Liesel live in the poor part of town, and during the war, there is
little work and rationing of food. Rudy is a growing boy and always
hungry. He looks for chances to steal fruit or eggs in the summer.
Thieving is one of their summertime activities.
“I've seen so many young men over the years who think they're running at other young men. They are not. They're running at me” (Part Four, “The Accordionist,” pp. 174, 175).
Death comments with a sense of irony about wars. Young men always
think they are fighting each other, but they are running straight into
“'When death captures me,' the boy vowed, 'he will feel my fist on his face'” (Part Four, “A Short History of the Jewish Fist Fighter,” p. 189).
Even as a child, Max is a fighter. He manages to fight off death through
the whole war. He does not give up a fight.
“'The sky is blue today, Max, and there is a big long cloud, and it's stretched out, like a rope. At the end of it, the sun is like a yellow hole . . .' Max, at that moment, knew that only a child could have given him a weather report like that” (Part Five, “The Gamblers,” p. 249).
Max and Liesel have a similar poetic perception of the preciousness of
everyday experience. He paints her word picture to him on the wall. Her
innocence gives him hope.
“I watched their love visions and freed them from their fear . . . They were French, they were Jews, and they were you” (Part Six, “Death's Diary: The Parisians,” p. 350).
Death tells his experience of collecting the souls of French Jews in a
concentration camp. Death says these Jews are “You,” meaning
everyone. Perhaps, because everyone will die. Perhaps because rather
than call on God to explain this atrocity as he had been doing, he turns
to humans to ask them why. Finally, he means that they are humans too.
Why would humans hurt one another?
“If only she could be so oblivious again, to feel such love without knowing it, mistaking it for laughter and bread with only the scent of jam spread out on top of it” (Part Seven, “Champagne and Accordions,” p. 358).
Liesel enjoys the summer before the bombing, spending time helping her
father at work, and having lunch with him, while he tells her stories. She
does not know what is coming.
“If nothing else, the old man would die like a human. Or at least with the thought that he was a human” (Part Seven, “The Long Walk to Dachau,” p. 305).
Hans Hubermann in pity gives a dying Jew a piece of bread. He is
whipped for it, but the old man at least sees that there are other humans
who have pity on him and does not die like an animal.
“Liesel watched the boy. How things had changed, from fruit stealer to bread giver” (Part Eight, “The Bread Eaters,” p. 440).
Rudy matures from a thoughtless boy, only worried about his own
stomach, to caring for others. It is his idea to scatter bread on the road so
the Jewish prisoners will see it and pick it up.
Book Thief : Top Ten Quotes