The Book Thief

What does Rudy relationship with Liesel teach Liesel about herself? Why does Liesel kiss Rudy in the end?

In the book thief

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Rudy is somebody who a lot of girls would say is the sweetest guy in the world. He gives without hesitation and stands up for what he believes in regardless of the consequences. I think Liesel learns this from him. Liesel finally realizes, a little too late, that she loves him (hence the kiss).

Rudy and Liesel

Rudy, "the boy who refuses to fear the opposite sex" (8.23), loves Liesel from the moment he meets her. His love grows and grows to the bitter end. We're talking both friendly love and romantic love, in Rudy's case. This is a boy who's not afraid to ask for a kiss. Until, that is, the day he rescues The Whistler from the Amper River. On that day Liesel's refusals hurts too much to bear, and he stops asking.

We know Liesel loves Rudy as a best friend. We know that after she's whipped on the street along with Max, she wants Rudy to kiss her. But this desire might have been born of all sorts of conflicting emotions. Romantic interest was surely one of them, but not necessarily as romantic as his love for her. Her feelings for him are never precisely revealed. Why? Because Rudy dies before she can find out. Liesel is just fourteen when Rudy dies. Rudy is fourteen, too, but seems much more sure of his feelings in that area. We have a hard time imagining him falling out of love with Liesel at any point, but that might just be because he'll be forever fourteen in our eyes.

We are also told that after Rudy's death, Liesel enters the Amper River with all her clothes on. She's heard talking about a kiss and saying the word "Saumensch" (86.34). "How about a kiss, Saumensch," (45.41) are the words Rudy said to her that day he rescued her book from the Amper River. The day he stopped asking. Liesel's moment in the river and her kissing Rudy's lips when he's dead definitely suggest that she regrets not kissing him.