The Book Thief

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It says here, "Describe Death's attempt to resist Liesel." what does that mean?

If you want, here is the official question.

Discuss the symbolism of Death as the omniscient narrator of the novel. What are Death's feelings for each victim? Describe Death's attempt to resist Liesel. Death stats, “I'm always finding humans at their best and worst. I see their ugly and their beauty, and I wonder how the same thing can be both.” (page 491) What is ugly and beautiful about Liesel, Rosa and Hans Hubermann, Max Vandenburg, Rudy Steiner, and Mrs. Hermann? Why is Death haunted by humans?

IT would be nice if you could assist me with the entire question though. Thanks beforehand! :)

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I think shmoop has the best take on the novel's narration;

The Book Thief Narrator:

Who is the narrator, can she or he read minds, and, more importantly, can we trust her or him?

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 is not 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?


It is easy to be “haunted by humans” when we do carry within us such complete opposites. We create beautiful art and music, yet we wage war. We love, and yet we hate. It is in us all. The times in which the story took place was a period that can be considered one of the worst in human history in terms of man against man. The mass torture and murder that took place has, for many, come to represent the very worst we can be. Death represents these same opposites. Death is both beautiful and ugly, both necessary and hated. I think we all must wonder, as Death does, at some point in our lives why and how one person can so easily be both. By choosing Death as the narrator, one of the most feared aspects of our nature can be examined in terms of it’s reality.

Zusak himself said he chose death “...because, after all, he was there to see the obliteration we’ve perpetrated on each other throughout the ages–and he would now be telling this story to prove to himself that humans are actually worth it.” (A Conversation with Markus Zusak).

The author gives Death a softer side. Death shows both sadness and joy. He deliberately looks for the beauty while doing a job that is less than beautiful. You are allowed to not hate Death for what he does, but to look closer at how we, as humans, can perpetuate death in it’s most evil form. Death in this book, does not cause people to die, he just assists them in their transition. And Death, while separate from us, is a part of us. We get to see that it is the very act of death, and our awareness of it, that makes us human.


Dear God, Thanks!

I managed to read it all, very informative.

Alas, it is also scary :o

Thank you :D

You're very welcome............ :-D