Study Guide

The Book Thief Chapter 52

By Markus Zusak

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Chapter 52

Death's Diary: The Parisians

  • It's the summer, and Liesel isn't having a bad time.
  • For Death, "the sky [is] the color of Jews" (52.3).
  • Death takes the souls of the Jews "out of the shower facilities" and out into "eternity" (52.4).
  • Many Jewish people were gassed with Zyklon B, after being told they were entering shower facilities (source).
  • Death can't forget the first visit to Auschwitz or the first visit to Mauthausen. (These are names of some Nazi concentration camps.)
  • Death takes Jews who jump from cliffs rather than face the gas.
  • It makes Death cold to remember, and Death "[tries] to de-realize it" (52.6).
  • (What do you think Death means by "de-realize"?)
  • Death says "God." He tells us that God doesn't answer him, no more than God answers humans.
  • Death can't understand why this is happening, and it makes Death so tired to think about it.
  • On June 23, Death takes French Jews from a German prison in Poland.
  • Poland and France are both occupied by the Nazis at this time. An estimated 25 percent of France's Jews were murdered during the Holocaust (source).
  • Death says:
    Please believe me when I tell you that I picked up each soul that day as if it were newly born. […] I listened to their last, gasping cries. Their vanishing words. I watched their love visions and freed them from their fear. (52.15)
  • Death is in dire need of something to blunt the intensity. Even the clouds seem on the run from the scene.
  • Of the dead Death takes this day, Death says, "They were French, they were Jews, they were you" (52.18).

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