I’m currently reading a book called The Book Thief for a school project, and there’s a line in the book in which I cannot understand what the author is trying to say. In this scene, a Jew, Max, is hiding in a storage room and his German friend, Walter, is providing Max with some things he might need in the future. Here’s some context:

He clicked open the case as quietly as he could and planted the book like a bomb.

This particular book being Mein Kampf, and the quote I’m struggling to understand is “like a bomb.” I’ve asked a few of my friends who have read the book and they have conflicting opinions. One thinks that it means he carefully placed the book in the case with precision and caution so as to not accidentally destroy or damage any part of it. Another one of my friends thinks it means he set the book down quickly and ran just like one would set a bomb and run away from it. I’m tempted to agree with the ladder argument, but I could see how the former argument would make sense as well.

I’m wondering if anyone could tell me exactly what the author means by this line, or is the author simply leaving it open to interpretation?

EDIT: https://www.collinsdictionary.com/us/dictionary/english/like-a-bomb has one meaning that means to do something with great speed. While this may be an unrelated phrase, I wanted to include it in case this phrase is related to the one in the book.

1 Answer 1


Your former theory seems to be the correct one. Rephrased, the line would run something like:

He planted the book with the utmost care, as if it were a bomb.

  • Okay then. ....
    – Ricky
    Commented Oct 15, 2018 at 6:52
  • 2
    I vote for Ricky's answer because the context in which the phrase is used is to be noted. In this case, the saying, - "He clicked open the case as quietly as he could" - shows that he is very careful in opening the case. So the same applies to the latter part of the answer as well. Commented Oct 15, 2018 at 7:43

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