The Book Thief
In Markus Zusak's The Book Thief, Death narrates the story of one girl who lived during the Holocaust. Not surprisingly, it's kind of a downer—but Death itself is surprisingly snarky. Why did Zusak use death as the narrator? And why would he make it sarcastic? Shmoop amongst yourselves; we'll just be over in the corner, sobbing into a box of Kleenex.
|Author||Zusak - Markus Zusak|
Language and Communication
Literature and Writing
Well, one thing he's got going for him. . .
. . .is his ability to hang out aaaanywhere he wants to.
And that allows him to listen in on conversations. . .
. . .or observe multiple locations without a problem.
No way a mere mortal could do that. Since the book is about the darkest time in
human history. . .
. . .maybe letting Death tell the story. . .
. . .is a way of reminding us of all that suffering.
With his presence on every page. . .
. . .it's pretty tough to forget.
And even though he seems to have no control over the outcome. . .
. . .his constant presence is, at the very least, unnerving.
And while we're on the subject of unnerving. . .
Death is surprisingly humorous and sarcastic . .
. . .while observing the horror of the Holocaust. So, how does he get away with trying to be
funny? Could be that's the very reason he's doing
He's good at injecting a little "black" humor. . .
. . . into an unrelentingly sad situation. . .
. . which gives readers a chance to come up for air.
Plus, even though he feels bad about the pain war inflicts on people. . .
. . .and his part in it. . .
. . .he's not human. He's simply an impartial bystander. . .
. . .watching and commentating on all the ugliness around him.
Since he doesn't have a horse in the race. . .
. . . he can afford to be less emotional about what's going down.
Human characters would have a tough time doing that.
So, why is Death narrating The Book Thief? Is it because he can be everywhere and see
every-thing? Is he on every page to remind us of all the
pain and suffering of the Holocaust? Is he there to inject dark humor and caustic
observations? Or is he just an impartial onlooker making
us take a hard look at ourselves? Shmoop amongst yourselves.