Death’s (the narrator) fascination with the colors of the sky functions as imagery. It helps set the mood of the story.
Death’s eagerness to observe different colors indicates his indecision about whether the human race is good or evil. In his analysis, human beings are capable of being either good or bad.
Death merges these colors into the Nazi flag; a black swastika in a white circle surrounded by a field of red.
Zusak compares the sky with soup when Himmel Street gets destroyed by bombs.
The Gravedigger’s Handbook is the first book Liesel steals. For Liesel, the book represents great loss, sorrow and her feelings of abandonment because of her brother’s death and her mother’s abandonment.
The irony in Himmel (Heaven) Street is that it is anything but heavenly.
Death explains to us that “sau” means “pig.” “Saumensch” is used to humiliate a female. “Saukerl” is for a male. Arschloch can be translated into another word that means donkey plus the word hole.
Rudy shows a central theme of courage throughout the book because he doesn’t care what other people think.
Hans Hubermann is courageous for not supporting Hitler, even if he pretends that he does.
Liesel’s mountain is her struggle to read. Papa helps her to reach the top and eventually succeeds.
Liesel steals The Shoulder Shrug after learning that Hitler was most likely responsible for the disappearance of her parents. Stealing this book for Liesel is like getting revenge on Hitler.
Max is using this book to look like a “normal” German which saves his life but can also lead to his distruction. For Liesel, the book means Max’s life.
Max feels guilty over asking the Hubermanns to hide him in their basement and to risk their lives for him.
For Hans, the accordion is a symbol of the man who gave it to him and who saved his life.
Hans feels guilty over Erik’s death because Erik had a son. He channels this guilt into a promise to help Erik’s widow.
When Max arrives, Rosa reveals a different side to her. She’s always kind to Max and believes helping him is the right thing to do. Helping to care for him and see his suffering creates a change in Rosa, especially in terms of her relationship with Liesel. In the end, Rosa stops the abuse (though not the language). She goes from wicked foster mother to role model.
The idea of Max being represented by a bird suggests that while he is physically “caged” in the basement, his spirit is free and proves unconquerable by the Nazis.
The “standover men” in Max’s life suggest his inner vulnerability; losing his father is compared with losing a fight. Yet a girl, not a man, standing over him brings him comfort as their friendship grows.
Max paints over the pages of Mein Kampf to tell the story of his own life. He transforms Nazi beliefs into compassion.
Zusak’s use of foreshadowing places emphasis on the events and “machinations” that lead the characters to their deaths.
Liesel explodes at Ilsa Hermann after she fires...