Rudy is one of five Steiner siblings living on Himmel street with their parents, always hungry, Rudy is often wandering the streets in search of food and even though his circumstances seem dire he is always cheerful and even more so once Liesel arrives. Liesel is like a goddess to Rudy and he soon is deeply in love with her, asking for kisses all the time and constantly trying to impress her. To most Rudy is a symbol of devotion, loyalty and innocence in the book thief, things that were hard to come by in Nazi Germany during such a tumultuous time and he was also a great example of the pure Aryan race Hitler believed were superior. This seems somewhat conflicting as Rudy is part of the most favored race in the regime yet he hates and despises it mainly due to the persecution of his hero, the Olympic champion Jesse Owens.
Rudy was often angry at Hitler after being told by his father that he shouldn’t dress up like Jesse Owens or Hitler will take him away. Obviously intended to induce fear into Rudy the scolding instead aroused a deep anger inside of him, which shows that he was a strong willed boy who was not affected by society as much as others and is another example of how often a child’s conscience is so much clearer then an adults, where the stress of daily life may force an adult to comply with terrible things while a child may be able to see the true side of what is happening.
I think Rudy was put in the book to give the reader an idea of the innocence of most children back then and how most didn’t know what they were getting into, he also gave us an insight into what was happening in German society at the time, with all the racism and prejudices that came with it. Rudy makes the reader realize that not all Germans knew or supported what has happening and that many were simply living in fear. Rudy loved to impress Liesel, which he did by diving in the river for her book, but Rudy also tried to impress almost anyone he met, for example Arthur the leader of their thievery escapade by stealing as much fruit as possible. This shows that Rudy was a proud boy who deeply valued others thoughts of him and would put himself in danger for the sake of others respect.
Throughout the text Rudy always enjoyed participating in sports on the street and on the track and his constant presence in this field gives the reader an idea that it is a prominent part of his life and that to Liesel, playing soccer on the street with Rudy is like home to her. This makes the ending so much more emotional as Rudy lies in the rubble of the very same street. Ever since Rudy watched Jesse Owens win 4 gold medals in the 1936 Berlin Olympics he was transfixed upon doing the same and soon became an excellent runner. Rudy was a person who once interested in something soon becomes absolutely hooked and will not stop until he becomes the best, however when he gets the chance to somewhat “rival” Jesse Owens, he chooses instead to stick with three wins, also doing similar when he becomes so obsessed with Liesels kiss we cannot imagine it and it becomes an honor he will not allow himself to reach. Rudy not only seeks respect but constantly gives it out, to his idol and his best friend.