Character Connection: Papa

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Character Connection

Don’t you just love larger-than-life characters? The ones who jump off the page and grab you? Whether you love them or hate them, you can’t be indifferent to them.

I would love to know about the characters who just won’t leave you! Most of you will probably post about how much you love (or loathe) each character, but this is a great place for the more creative ones among you to let go and have fun! Write yourself into a scene with Anne and Diana. Write a love poem in elvish for Aragorn. Draw a picture of Harry obliterating Voldemort. The possibilities are endless.

Be sure to post the book’s title and author, and be very careful not to give away spoilers while talking about how much you love your characters.

Mr. Linky will be posted here on The Introverted Reader every Thursday.

The Book Thief

My favorite book is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, so you know it has to have some great characters in it. I’ve written about Rudy before, but today is dedicated to Hans Hubermann, aka Papa.

There’s so much to say about Papa and yet so little.

“To most people, Hans Hubermann was barely visible. An un-special person….He was able to appear as merely part of the gackground, even if he was standing at the front of a line. He was just there. Not noticeable. Not important or particularly valuable….The frustration of that appearance, as you can imagine, was its complete misleadence, let’s say. There most definitely was value in him….His manner.  The quiet air around him…. [His eyes] were made of kindness, and silver. Like soft silver, melting. Liesel, upon seeing those eyes, understood that Hans Hubermann was worth a lot.”

I think he isn’t noticed because he doesn’t want to be noticed.  He’s too busy watching out for others and seeing how he can make someone else’s life a little easier.  Because he is a guardian at heart.  He does his best for anyone who needs help.

In WWII Germany, that’s a lot of people.

He stands tall and brave and somehow hides and feeds a Jew when there’s barely enough for his own family.

Papa’s first appearance probably says the most about him.  Liesel has just appeared on his doorstep, a foster daughter that he’s taking in.  She’s young and scared and afraid to get out of the car to go live with these strangers.  Papa takes the time to stoop his tall frame and talk to her quietly.  After fifteen minutes, she finally gets out with him.  They make their way into the house in stages, with Papa speaking calmly and quietly the entire time.  And then when Liesel is inside and gets frightened again, Papa sits on the floor and talks with her and teaches her how to roll cigarettes, and an hour later they are family.  Maybe not blood relations, but the family that we choose is always the family of our hearts.

He consciously chooses not to join the Nazi party.  He’s taken a good look at the ideology and he doesn’t like it.  Not one bit.  Jews are his neighbors and not very different from himself.  In fact, a Jew saved his life in the first world war, and Papa is not a man to forget a debt of honor.  He’s not stupid, he walks the lines well enough to keep himself and his family safe, but he also knows what his own sense of honor requires.  A Jewish neighbor’s shop is vandalized?  Papa helps him clean it up, no matter who is watching.

Finally, an act dear to our hearts.  When ten-year-old Liesel wakes up in the middle of the night with screaming nightmares, Papa gets up, cleans up her and her bed, and finds out that she doesn’t know how to read but is desperate to learn.  Papa doesn’t read so well himself, but with his own blend of patience and humor, he and Liesel share a lot of time poring over words and letters.  She has her own voracious love of words, but he fosters that love and helps it grow.

I could go on and on and on about all the small acts of kindness that make up Papa, but I’ll stop here.  He gives and gives and gives and that defines him.

If you haven’t read The Book Thief, go read it now.  Please.

Who did you connect with this week? Link your post on Mr. Linky, then be sure to go check out the other Character Connections!

I have an affiliate relationship with IndieBound, Book Depository, and Better World Books and will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site.

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