Hans Hubermann in The Book Thief
Hans Hubermann is a heartwarming instance in which survival is consistently portrayed. Hans’s character is depicted to ironically develop the theme of survival in The Book Thief because he is a soldier who is meant to fight at war but Hans manages to escape fighting on multiple occasions. Hans Hubermann is the kind-hearted, accordion playing, cigarette smoking foster father of Liesel Meminger.
One example of Hans’ luck is when the narrator is telling the reader about his escape of Death during the first World War, “I had taken a few of them along the way, but you could say I never even came close to touching Hans Hubermann. He was either too lucky, or he deserved to live, or there was a good reason for him to live” (Zusak 174). On Death’s many encounters of Hans Hubermann, he never had the chance to catch him. Maybe his character didn’t deserve to die or maybe, in cases like Erik Vandenburg’s, Hans got lucky enough to avoid death entirely.
Erik saved Hans’s life on one lucky occasion. It was the day when they were drafting people for war, everyone who went to fight that day, would die. Hans Hubermann was a brave soldier and on the day of that war, he would have died if it wasn’t for Erik Vandenburg. On most occasions when Sergeant Schneider entered the sleeping quarters, someone was bound to end up scrubbing toilets or cleaning bathrooms. For this reason, no one ever volunteered when the Sergeant posed a question such as “‘Who comes from Pasing?’ or ‘Who’s good with mathematics?’” (Zusak 175).
Except, this time the brave soldier who would wave their hand in the crowd murmuring “me, I’m good with mathematics” this soldier was in luck. In Hans Hubermanns case, survival came from luck and luck came from Hans’s fortunate ability to read and write. Erik Vandenburg states “Hubermann, sir” (Zusak 177). In that moment, these were the 2 words that Hans dreaded the most, but little does he know, Erik Vandenburg just spoke 2 simple words that would allow Hans Hubermann to live to see another day. His nomination from Erik kept Hans out of the war, the war that would kill his best friend, fellow soldier, and savoir. Erik Vandenburg. Hans is a lucky guy and Death felt more or less threatened by Hans’s disappearing acts. “He had already cheated me in on world but would later be put into another, where he would somehow manage to avoid me again” (Zusak 33-34).
In that, Death is saying how peculiar it is that somehow Hans is able to avoid Death by managing to steer clear of war. Hans Hubermann is a survivor, until of course, one lonely, quiet night. The night of the bombing, Death would collect the peaceful souls of inordinate people on Himmel street, Hans Hubermann included.
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