Summary Part Six: The Dream Carrier
Summary of “Death's Diary: 1942” and “The Snowman”
The year 1942 was a vintage one for Death; lots of bombs and homeless, and too many bodies. It was especially bad for Jews, Russians, and bodies on a French coast. He was just getting over Stalin's murder of his own people in Russia when Hitler came along. Although Death was busy collecting souls, he saw lots of colors and beauty, such as Liesel's carrying snow to the basement to make a snowman for Max.
Liesel is now thirteen. On Christmas, there are no presents but she makes Max a snowman in the basement. The whole family joins in. After that, however, Max is so cold that he becomes ill. They carry him upstairs to Liesel's room where he is unconscious.
Commentary on “Death's Diary: 1942” and “The Snowman”
This time on earth events bewilder Death. He has hardly ever worked this hard collecting the dead except perhaps during the medieval plague. He mentions, besides Hitler's escapades, those of Russian leader, Joseph Stalin (in power, 1922–1952) who killed millions of his own people during the Great Purge (1934–1939). The snowman in the basement is fun on Christmas Eve, but Max is thin and chronically cold, so that he becomes shivering and unconscious. The Hubermann family has to move him upstairs so he will not die, and this is dangerous.
Summary of “Thirteen Presents” and “Fresh Air, An Old Nightmare, and What to Do With a Jewish Corpse”
Liesel is now reading to Max at his bedside and wants some new book to read to him. She and Rudy decide to try another robbery at the mayor's house. Liesel steals the book The Dream Carrier. The narrator suggests the mayor's wife keeps the window open on purpose. Liesel reads the book every day to the unconscious Max. Mama and Papa worry about what they will do with Max's corpse if he dies. Max does not wake up for eight more days. When he does, Liesel gives Max thirteen presents she collected for him, such as a button, pinecone, ribbon, newspapers, candy wrapper, and a cloud that she describes in words for him.
Commentary on “Thirteen Presents” and “Fresh Air, An Old Nightmare, and What to Do With a Jewish Corpse”
Liesel feels as if she is nourishing Max with words when she reads to him while he is unconscious. She and Max share the magic of words, as when she is able to give him a cloud she saw by writing it down. It is clear he loves Liesel's innocent imagination. She keeps him alive with hope. Death points out, however, that German cities are being bombed.
Summary of “Death's Diary: Cologne” and “The Visitor”
On May 30, 1942, a thousand bombers flew towards Köln, and Death collected 500 souls with thousands more homeless. In Molching, the Nazis are going through all the houses, street by street, to see which basements can serve for air-raid shelters. Liesel purposefully falls during a soccer game and grazes her knee so she has to go home. She tells her parents the Nazis are coming. They do not have time to hide Max. While Rosa prays, the Nazi goes into the basement where Max is under the stairs. He measures the room and says the basement is too shallow for a shelter, then leaves.
Commentary on “Death's Diary: Cologne” and “The Visitor”
The war is heating up on the home front, and now a new phase is spending nights in air-raid shelters. Liesel shows great presence of mind in warning her parents about the Nazi visit. The Nazi who comes to their house is a nice fatherly type, with children of his own at home. The violence is always interspersed with scenes of ordinary life.
Summary of “The Schmunzeler” and “Death's Diary: The Parisians”
Papa calls Rudy Liesel's boyfriend, and she denies it. Rudy smells cigarettes and suggests to Liesel that she take some so they can sell them for something. Liesel says she does not steal from Papa.
Summer comes, and Liesel is happy, but Death is very busy: “For me, the sky was the color of Jews” (p. 349). Death describes how the souls of Jews rose into his arms at Auschwitz from the gas chambers and at Mauthausen where they threw themselves off cliffs: “There were broken bodies and dead, sweet hearts” (p. 349). On June 23, 1942, he had to take French Jews in a German prison on Polish soil. He took each one tenderly as if newly born.
Commentary on “The Schmunzeler” and “Death's Diary: The Parisians”
Death is having a hard time narrating this part. He says sometimes he calls on God, and he thinks he hears God saying it is not his job to understand. Auschwitz, one of the worst of the extermination camps, where 1.1 million people died in gas chambers from a pesticide, Zyklon B, was in German-occupied Poland. Mauthhausen was a group of labor camps for intelligentsia. The incident referred to happened in occupied France when there was a mass arrest of 13,152 French Jews in Paris who were sent to Auschwitz in 1942.