To me, the character who has stood out the most in the novel so far is Rudy Steiner. From the beginning of the story, Rudy has always interested me. He plays the role as Liesel Meminger’s best friend and catalyst and crime. He steals fruit from local neighbors’ orchards, pokes fun at the various townspeople and regularly participates in games of street soccer with the rest of the neighborhood kids. He also appears to be in love with Liesel, frequently, and often foolishly, professing his love and asking her for a kiss. As one of five Steiner children, Rudy is permanently hungry and often takes care of his younger siblings. He has especially earned his neighborhood infamy by taking part in the Jesse Owens Incident, an occurrence in which Rudy painted himself black from head to toe with ash and ran the 100 Meter Dash during the middle of the night at the Hubert Oval, Himmel Street’s local running track.
However, despite his oddities and the multiple scandals that usually lay in the wake of his path, Rudy’s amusing and playful personality traits can be summarized skillfully with one quote which took place when one of Liesel’s precious books had been tossed into a river. In an act that displays Rudy’s heroic attitude he “…jumped in, caught up to it, and held it in his right hand. He grinned. He stood waist deep in the icy, Decemberish water. “How about a kiss Saumensch?” he said" (Page 241). In this quote, Rudy demonstrates his multi-dimensioned disposition. He shows that he is impulsive, brave and caring enough to jump into a river in the middle of December and risk catching hypothermia, all in favor of saving his best friend’s book. In this sense, he is also eager to please as well as show Liesel that he is gallant and gentlemanly. Rudy exhibits his teasing and playful side when he asks his best friend to kiss him as a reward for rescuing her beloved novel all while insulting her with a German curse word in the same sentence. Finally, Rudy can be seen as persistent and determined, simply because, despite Liesel’s constant rebuffs, continues to ask her for a show of her affection throughout the entirety of the novel.
This quote is important to me because it reminds me of my undying adoration for Rudy’s character. It also reminds me of my many childhood days spent in elementary school and how people are still capable of carrying out such impetuous acts in those past years up until present time. It is important to the novel because it captures all of Rudy’s characteristic traits in one simple sentence and briefly describes the nature of Liesel and Rudy’s relationship.
I can connect this quote to myself through my memories of the stupidity of youth. I think the one fond scene that managed to ingrain itself into my mind is the one of me and my friends pretending to be “kings of the playground” while perched precariously on a thin metal rail positioned at the highest point of the jungle gym. Of course we all knew about the consequences, but we figured that we would continue our charade for just a little while longer. It was only until another one of my friends pretended to push us off that we all flinched backwards and fell. I remember that I ended up catching myself with my hands planted on the rocks that lay on the ground, only to be carted off to the doctor’s office to get three stubborn ones that managed to lodge themselves into my palm removed. It is through memories like these that remind me just how reckless and unintelligent children, such as Rudy, can be!