Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Book Thief Update

Rudy Steiner, Liesel's new friend and companion, has this strange obsession with the olympic runner Jesse Owens. This 4-time gold-medalist had a real impact upon the young Rudy, and there is a certain incident that the people of Himmel Street will never forget. Though this incident happened before Liesel's arrival, she feels that she was there when it happened, because she can picture it perfectly. The incident was so bizarre that it would be hard to ever forget. After Rudy's family watches Jesse win his 4 gold medals, Rudy dashes into the kitchen and smears charcoal all over his body, so that it covers every inch of his white skin. He then headed out the door to the Hubert Oval. Upon arrival at the track, Rudy begins his uncoordinated stretches. Impersonating Jesse Owens, he takes off down the track, commentating on himself the entire time. He imagines the crowd chanting his name, which at this moment was no longer Rudy, but instead he was the unbeatable Jesse Owens. Rudy realizes he is in trouble when he sees his father standing at the finish line waiting for him. On the way home Rudy's father lectures him about his strange behavior. The discussion leads to Rudy's father telling him to never ever again paint himself black. When Rudy asks why not, his father tells him "Because they'll take you away" (Zusak 60) Again Rudy asks why, and his father tries to explain that anyone who isn't "like them" is not safe. Blacks and Jews especially. Here's a small section from the reading that had a great impact on me...
"Mr. Steiner...explained, 'I know son--but you've got beautiful blond hair and big, safe blue eyes. You should be hapy with that; is that clear?' But nothing was clear. Rudy understood nothing, and that night was the prelude of things to come. Two and a half years later, the Kaufmann Shoe Shop was reduced to broken glass, and all the shoes were flung aboard a truck in their boxes" (Zusak 61).

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