The Book Thief

how does "Death's Diary: 1942" serve as a turing point in the book?

Death's Diary: 1942

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Death does not only explain that he was terribly inconvenienced by the events of World War II, but also shows real emotion about what he has experienced. Death is particularly saddened by the deaths of a group of French Jews in a German prison in 1942. "Please believe me when I tell you that I picked up each soul that day as if it were newly born. I even kissed a few weary, poisoned cheeks . . . . I took them all away, and if ever there was a time I needed distraction, this was it. In complete desolation, I looked at the world above" (p. 350). He shows readers how haunting and sad the events of that time were. This makes him a sympathetic narrator, one to which readers can relate.

Death as the narrator also infuses the bigger picture of the terrible reality of the war into Liesel's story. Death provides this broad context exceptionally well in the chapter called "Death's Diary: The Parisians." "Summer came. For the book thief, everything was going nicely. For me, the sky was the color of Jews" (p. 349). Although the gas chambers are not a part of Liesel's story, Death provides an incredibly haunting description of them in this chapter, and lets readers know of the atrocities going on at the same time as the story.

When their bodies had finished scouring for gaps in the door, their souls rose up. When their fingernails had scratched at the wood and in some cases were nailed into it by the sheer force of desperation, their spirits came toward me, into my arms, and we climbed out of those shower facilities, onto the roof and up, into eternity's certain breadth. They just kept feeding me. Minute after minute. Shower after shower. (p. 349) Although this description does not directly relate to or affect the main plot of the story involving Liesel, it adds an important dimension to the novel. Readers are given a holistic view of World War II without making the novel too overwhelming in scope. By making Death the narrator, Zusak is able to provide the broad background of what was occurring in Europe during Nazi rule without sacrificing the vivid details that make Liesel's story so moving.