The Book Thief

English report

Write about each of the following main characters: Liesel, Papa, Rudy, and the Mayor's wife. Explain the importance of each to the story. Please write one paragraph for each character.

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Liesel Meminger

Introduced by Death as "The Book Thief," Liesel is nine at the beginning of the novel, when her younger brother dies and she is given up by her mother to live with Hans and Rosa Hubermann in the small town of Molching. Liesel is traumatized by her brother's death, but Hans proves to be a calming foster father; with his help, she learns to read and soon finds comfort in the written word. Over the course of the novel, she befriends Max, the Jew who arrives to hide from the Nazis in the Hubermanns' basement, and falls in love with Rudy Steiner, her best friend. Ultimately, Liesel learns the power of words to influence humans to act towards both good and evil as she experiences the beauty and the brutality of humanity. Death describes her as a "perpetual survivor," and Liesel survives Hitler's reign while many of those whom she loves perish as a result of World War II and the Holocaust.

Hans Hubermann

Liesel's silver-eyed foster father. An amateur accordion player, Hans is a tall, gentle man with a remarkable amount of integrity and bravery -- Hans' compassion sets a strong example for Liesel, who is soothed by his presence. His life was saved by a Jew Erik Vandenberg in World War I, and he keeps his promise to Erik's widow by hiding her son Max from the Nazis. A skilled house painter by trade, Hans is horrified by the Nazis' persecution of the Jews, and he brings scrutiny to himself by painting over anti-Semitic slurs on Jewish-owned homes and businesses. Hans' impulsive kindness ultimately gets him in trouble, and he is conscripted to serve in a dangerous air raid recovery unit. Hans survives this assignment, but ultimately dies in the air raid that hits Molching at the end of the novel.

Rudy Steiner

Liesel's best friend. One of six Steiner children, Rudy is gallant and impetuous -- he is best known for painting his face black and running around a track imitating Jesse Owens. Rudy is motivated throughout the novel by his love for Liesel; at one point he retrieves Liesel's book from the icy cold river and asks her for a kiss. By the end of the novel, Liesel has come to love Rudy as well; Rudy dies in an air raid at the end of the novel, and Liesel kisses his corpse.

Ilsa Hermann

The mayor's wife. An intelligent woman with her own library, Ilsa has spent decades mourning the death of her son Johann, who froze to death in 1918, the final year of World War I. Ilsa takes a liking to Liesel: she witnesses Liesel stealing a book from the book burning and invites Liesel into her home library to read. Ilsa gives Liesel a blank book and encourages her to write, and not to live the rest of her life in despair. Ilsa and her husband take Liesel into their home after Hans and Rosa are killed.