The Book Thief

what was rudy`s father trying to teach his son on the night of the jesse owens incident?

prologue, part one

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A flashback to 1936, when Jesse Owens, the black American runner, wins four gold medals at the Berlin Olympics, embarrassing Hitler and the racist Nazis. Rudy, obsessed with the achievement, paints himself black with charcoal and runs the 100 meter relay at an empty track, imagining himself to be Owens. Rudy's father Alex Steiner drags his son home and lectures him not to pretend to be black or Jewish because of the Nazis' racial policies. It is noted that Alex is a member of the Nazi Party but not a racist, and that he will do anything to support his family, even if that means being in the party.