The Book Thief – Part One – Arrival on Himmel Street (cont)

So yesterday I briefly covered the beginning of this chapter and I didn’t get too far, so let’s carry on.

So the book thief and her brother were travelling to Munich to be given over to foster parents. This I’d assume is because of the war, and they are trying to get to as safe a place as possible, possibly the countryside, away from large cities where bombs are dropped.

How It Happened

There was an intense spurt of coughing. Almost an inspired spurt. And soon after – nothing.

I wonder what caused the cough, did he have whooping-cough, asthma, just a cold or emphysema? Was it because he didn’t have access to medical attention that he died, or didn’t have the correct medication? Well in those times, much less was known about medicine, and during a war, medical attention would be hard to come by. But I have to comment on the “inspired” bit, are we saying that it almost seemed like subconsciously or otherwise, the child willed to die? Life leaves the body extremely quickly, definitely faster than what is portrayed in the movies.

Hold on I didn’t think that Death went on the train, I thought he arrived when the train was stopped and everyone was outside (or am I completely wrong). Maybe both happen. The girl notices her brother’s death and we find out her name is Liesel Meminger. She saw clearly that her brother, Werner Meminger, was dead on the floor. I think that when you add a name to a death, it makes it more personal and more tragic instead of being just another number, add a face and a story and you can’t help but feel worse. But sometimes I think the media play this card too often, almost as if to gain viewers or something, they constantly tell us of deaths and show us a photo and tell us the name and then add a final touch, “They left behind a wife and two kids,” or whatever the case may be, sure that may be the case, but I think death’s on the news are so commonplace these days that the public are now desensitized to them.

It is January 1939. So The Second World War, has yet to truly begin, but I’m sure indications of a conflict are obvious. Death has a point, we tend to shake people to check if they are alive or not, well you do want to be sure before you start grieving or arranging a funeral, because it was be terribly strange and possibly distressing to start grieving to then find the ‘deceased’ alive again. Ah, so the train didn’t stop because of the death (I was probably naive for assuming that) but because the track. So the mother gets out and so do the two guards, so we are now back to the same events that we were told of earlier.

So the mother and daughter (and the dead son) were dropped off at the next station, and were left there to figure out what happened next. In the unnamed town Werner was buried and the only witnesses were a priest, two gravediggers and the mother and daughter. I have to ask a stupid question, do gravediggers still exist? I mean someone has to make a grave so people can be buried, but are they still called gravediggers and do they dig with a shovel or a machine? I guess its one of those things you just don’t think about.

An Observation

A pair of train guards. A pair of gravediggers. When it came down to it, one of them called the shots. The other did what he was told. The question is, what if the other is a lot more than one?

I feel slightly confused at this ‘observation’. Is he simply saying what if the one who obeys the order is ‘more’ than the one who called the shots (whatever ‘more’ is, physical, mental, worth, otherwise). Or something a lot deeper, I guess it is whatever we want it to be, but I would think that Zusak has a specific idea in mind.

Interesting that Death attended the funeral of Werner, quite strange. I must say that the gravediggers would have a tough time digging through all the snow and ice, but how tough that would be, I have no idea (does not live in an area where we get snow, EVER). The apprentice drops a book, I’d hazard a guess that it is the ‘gravedigger’s handbook’ and that this begins the girl’s role as a ‘book thief’.

A Small Image, Perhaps Twenty Metres Away

When the dragging was done, the mother and the girl stood and breathed. There was something black and rectangular lodged in the snow. Only the girl saw it. Se bent down and picked it up and held it firmly in her fingers. The book had silver writing on it.

Adults don’t pay attention all that much do they. It always seem to be children that look and see, and find things in the world. I think adult’s should re-learn this skill of looking around and ‘smelling the roses’ I’m sure we would find a grate deal of interesting things that might even make our day. If you want a good example of this take a look at a 2007 news article, in which a world famous violinist plays in the metro in D.C. and we see what the busy public do with the busker, considering that people pay upwards of $100 to see this man perform, and these people were listening for Free! Here’s the link

So the mother and daughter arrive in Munich and some authorities ask questions about their late arrival. I have to say that there are some great examples yet again of Zusak’s amazing writing, too many for me to quote, but they are there. So Liesel is being taken to Himmel Street and has said goodbye (I think) to her mother.

A Translation

Himmel = Heaven

Let’s hope that this proves to be the case for Liesel. But it doesn’t look too promising. She had never been in a car before!! That would be almost unheard of these days (at least in ‘developed’ countries or in the Amish communities). I wonder why exactly she is being placed in foster care. Is it because her mother can no longer provide for her children? Is it because of the impending war? Or other reasons?

Once again this chapter will have to be finished tomorrow, I seem to go into a great amount of detail, but sometimes I feel as though I am skipping things, but I hope I have found or will find a good balance, so it is enjoyable for you, a good level of depth and doesn’t take hours on end to write.


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