The Book Thief Death As The Narrator Essay

Death Is Human Too: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak Essay

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Death is a very well-known figure that is feared by many in all countries. He is suspected of being cruel, disturbing and all synonyms of horrifying. Death is inevitable and that is the most fearing aspect of his persona. In Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, Death is made to seem or resemble humans. Effectively using the narration role, Death introduces a unique description and definition of colors in which he uses as a tool to effectively engage the readers to the events occurring throughout the book. He also demonstrates him personal and different experiences as well, mostly about soul gathering and the implications of WWII that have affected him. On the contrary to Death’s dead, appalling and scary nature that many interpret him to be…show more content…

Death also used the colors of the spectrum to describe his job as a “soul gatherer” and the connection with people. Death says “A color will be perched on my shoulder and I will gently carry you away” (Zusak, 4). This explains what Death does when he collects souls. He uses the colors to recollect on events, trauma and his own personal feelings. In discussing the colors, this emphasizes the act of describing the difficult experience of WWII in which returns to the fact that Death is made to resemble a human. Death’s detailing and descriptions of his soul gathering in the war and his human-like emotions further to the conclusion that is Death being or resembling humans. By Death saying “Far away, fires were burning…I had just picked up 200 murdered souls” (Zusak, 478), he discusses and implies his soul gathering and subtle emotions about what it is like to be Death. In Death saying “murdered souls”, Death shows the emotion of compassion towards the Jews being slaughtered in WWII. Death uses his experience as a gateway to express his inner feelings toward the situation with Liesel Meminger. By Death saying “I was on my way to Molching for more [souls]” (Zusak, 478), it effectively shows the connection in which is the third time Liesel and Death are united. This further depicting that Death uses his personal experiences of and with Liesel Meminger and War to express his true colors. In a final attempt to completely share his ideas,

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First Person (Limited)

The Book Thief is narrated by an extremely overworked being who identifies himself as Death.

Some readers love Death as a narrator; others not so much. We tend to think it's an interesting choice. Markus Zusak needed a narrator who could provide Liesel's point of view, but also provide information that Liesel, as a young girl in a relatively isolated town, wouldn't know about.

He needed a narrator who could provide snapshots of the World War II outside of Himmel Street. Zusak could've just used a third-person narrator, but by using Death the author is able to offer a unique perspective on all the death and dying occurring during this historical period.

Now, Death isn't omniscient—he doesn't know and see everything that's going on in the world. He's gets his information just like we do—from his personal experiences and from what he reads and hears about from others. In this story, much of what Death relates to us falls into the second category. His chief source for the story he's telling is The Book Thief, the book Liesel writes about her life.

But, for Liesel's story to make sense to us, Death needs to tell us about what's going on in other parts of Germany, Poland, and Russia during World War II, to provide us with details Liesel would have no way of knowing at the time she's writing her book. Dying is one of the main things going on. He interweaves this larger context with the story of Liesel and the people she loves and loses.

Check out Zusak had to say about why he chose Death as the narrator for The Book Thief:

Well, I thought I'm writing a book about war, and there's that old adage that war and death are best friends, but once you start with that idea, then I thought, well, what if it's not quite like that? Then I thought what if death is more like thinking, well, war is like the boss at your shoulder, constantly wanting more, wanting more, wanting more, and then that gave me the idea that Death is weary, he's fatigued, and he's haunted by what he sees humans do to each other because he's on hand for all of our great miseries. (Source)

Now what do you think? Was Death a good choice for the role of narrator? What would the book have been like if it was narrated by a third-person narrator? Or by Liesel?

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