The Book Thief Part 8 Summary

Instructor: Shelley Vessels

Shelley has taught at the middle school level for 10 years and has a master's degree in teaching English.

If things couldn't get any harder for the characters who live on Himmel Street, they do in Part 8 of ~'The Book Thief.~' Both Alex Steiner and Hans Hubermann find themselves in an undesirable situation, and their families are left behind to hold it together.

Part 8: The Word Shaker

'Part 8' of The Book Thief consists of eight chapters, during which Rudy Steiner almost ends up in a Nazi training school and Leisel Meminger's stepfather, Hans Hubermann, finds himself working in an Air Raid Special Unit in Nazi Germany. In 'Part Eight', we also find Rudy's best friend, Liesel, giving bread to Jewish prisoners. Let's see what happens in these eight chapters.

Dominoes and Darkness

While Rudy and his siblings play dominoes, they hear a conversation between their parents and the Gestapo, or Nazi secret police, who are looking for Rudy. While Rudy thinks that it's connected to something he's done, the police want him to attend a special training school because of his excellent grades and athletic ability. Mrs. Steiner begs them not to take her son. Rudy believes that if he had played close attention to the conversation and not the dominoes, he would have volunteered for the training.

The Thought of Rudy Naked

In a flashback, Rudy and two other boys are in a doctor's office, where they're ordered to take off their clothes and examined. After the exam, the doctor and nurse state that they want the first and third boy, but Rudy couldn't exactly figure out whom they're referring to. This is the incident that leads the Gestapo to visit Rudy's house in 'Dominoes and Darkness.'


Death, the narrator, speaks about how punishment is coming to all who survive the war for what has gone on, and Hans is one of the few who welcomes it. Hans's punishment is his acceptance into the German Army. Liesel reads the letter that tells of Hans's acceptance, and it upsets her. A week later, Rudy's father, Alex Steiner, receives a similar letter as punishment for not giving Rudy to the Gestapo.

The Promise Keeper's Wife

The night before Hans is to report to the army, Hans and Alex get drunk. Hans is so drunk that he attempts to enter a neighbor's house instead of his own. He falls asleep down in the basement only to be woken up by a bucket of water thrown by Rosa.

The Hubermanns prepare for their goodbyes, and the day is structured like a countdown: two hours left, one hour left... Liesel and Rosa accompany a quiet Hans to the train station. Hans asks Liesel to continue reading in the shelter during the air raids.

Two weeks later, Rudy visits Liesel and gets her to walk around Molching with him. For the first time since Hans left, Liesel is able to loosen up with Rudy. They return home late to angry mothers, and Liesel later finds Rosa sleeping in bed with Hans's accordion around her neck.

The Collector

Both Hans and Alex are given their duties in the army, but neither see combat. Alex, true to his trade, is repairing soldiers' uniforms, but Hans is given a far less appealing assignment. He is to be the first to report to an area after an air raid, the group Death calls the 'Dead Body Collectors.' Hans's sergeant asks him what he did to deserve to be in this group, and when Hans tells him that he gave bread to a Jew marching to a concentration camp, the sergeant tells him that he's lucky to have survived.

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