what stops death from taking max and his soul?
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Death didn't take Max because Max fought back.
A LATE-NIGHT EXCERPT
I realized much later that I actually visited 33 Himmel Street in that period of time. It must have been one of the few moments when the girl was not there with him, for all I saw was a man in bed. I knelt. I readied myself to insert my hands through the blankets. Then there was a resurgence—an immense struggle against my weight. I withdrew, and with so much work ahead of me, it was nice to be fought off in that dark little room. I even managed a short, closed-eyed pause of serenity before I made my way out.
The Book Thief, pg. 217