The Book Thief – Part Eight – Punishment

Punishment

Well that is an interesting concept. Everyone in Germany at one point, in one way or another, was punished. Some died, others suffered, others starved, others lost loved ones and others lost their homes. Everyone was punished during and after the war. But Hans is one person, who awaits his punishment with open arms. Which is actually really sad. It is from the guilt of doing something ‘wrong’, like what happened with Liesel earlier, that makes you want to be punished. You believe that you deserve punishment, because you’ve done something wrong and gotten away with it. While for some people they would just get up and move on after getting away with something, and they would be overjoyed that they haven’t been punished. But then there are others, who have a conscience (not saying the other group don’t) and feel guilty. And to try and combat their guilt, they seek out punishment. Whether or not their guilt is alleviated by this depends on a lot of things, sometimes they try and cause more trouble, just minor things to begin with, so they can be punished for something. It is quite fascinating.

And for Hans his punishment arrives in the mailbox. But is it good news?

Paper in the Kitchen

We are delighted to inform you that your application to join the NSDAP has finally been approved …

Ummm what? Why are they approving his application to join the Nazi Party now? Is it some sort of test? Is it to keep an eye on him? Are they trying to wean out all those ‘nasty’ habits and emotions? It sounds like a very cunning punishment. One that on the surface appears good natured, but scratch under the skin, and you will find some ulterior motive. But right now, what that motive is, is unclear. Good thing Hans is very sceptical as well, best to have him on his guard.

No! Hans cannot be drafted into the army! Isn’t he too old? Not to say that older people can’t fight or serve or whatever, but Hans shouldn’t be forced to serve. So this is why he is in the party, to make sure he now feels obligated as a member of the party to serve his country? How can Hans get out of it? There has to be a way! If he is sent to Russia, he won’t come back.

The Contents of Liesel Meminger’s Imagination

In the shell-shocked kitchen, somewhere near the stove, there’s an image of a lonely, overworked typewriter. It sits in a distant, near-empty room. Its keys are faded and a blank sheet waits patiently upright in the assumed position. It wavers slightly in the breeze from the window. Coffee break is nearly over. A pile of paper the height of a human stands casually by the door. It could easily be smoking.

That is the strangest thing ever to be imagined. Surely she could not have been thinking of that! Ah, apparently she saw it later, after contemplating the number of letters that were sent out as punishment. The Nazi’s must be growing desperate. And when ‘people’ get desperate bad things happen. Seriously how can Hans get out of this, he has to.

20 Minutes Later: A Girl on Himmel Street

She looks up. She speaks in a whisper. ‘The sky is soft today, Max. The clouds are so soft and sad, and …’ She looks away and crosses her arms. She thinks of her Papa going to war and grabs her jacket at each side of her body. ‘And it’s cold, Max. It’s so cold…’

Alex Steiner has been ‘enlisted’ as well, things are not looking good. Are the Nazi’s that annoyed that they couldn’t take Rudy away? Or is it just because you aren’t allowed to disagree with them, and if you did, you were ‘unpatriotic’ and ‘a Jew lover’. Seriously what was going through their minds to actually convince them that any of this made sense? How did this even happen? How were the atrocities allowed to happen? How were the citizens of Germany so easily led to believe that this was all for the best? It really makes no sense.

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