Tuesday, March 3, 2015

When Death Comes Knockin'

    I am beginning to notice that there is not one single overarching theme in The Book Thief, but rather there are so many essential elements that bring the story to life. One theme that I have noticed throughout the book, focuses on mortality.  This is something that is set up for readers from the very beginning, as evident by a passage from page 3 which reads: “HERE IS A SMALL FACT: You are going to die.”  Not to mention, that the book is told from the perspective of death.  It honestly took me quite some time to understand that Death served as the narrator. Once I became aware of this, the story captivated me even more….how could the story be told from the perspective of death? Who’s death does he represent? These were questions that often came to mind as I was reading. I kept reading with the idea that Liesel was going to die, which made me extremely nervous because I did not want her to! (Luckily she did not in fact die).  Considering the fact that from the very beginning death acknowledged that this book would not have a fairy tale ending, but rather a tragic one, I read with great anticipation for what would occur next.  I think that the theme of mortality is stronger since it is told with the perspective of death in mind.
Since I have read so many book focused on the Holocaust/ World War II, I knew that death would play a critical role in The Book Thief.  The honesty of how death is inevitable is something that was easy for me be convinced of.  Yet, I like how the narrator described the experiences of so many characters, that it was hard for me to predict who would die. With that being sad, I initially thought that Max would be a prime candidate for death; clearly that was not the case though. From what I know about the events that took place during this time period, and other stories I have read about Jews in hiding, I formed an initial prediction that Max would be captured and sent to a concentration camp, where he would unfortunately die from the conditions. Honestly, I was glad this was not the case. The Book Thief opened my eyes to the fact that my background knowledge on this topic would not play in my favor this time around. I was completely shocked when Rosa, Hans and Rudy died! I would not have guessed in a million years that the three of them would be killed as a result of bombing in their town.  I became immediately sad when I read this portion of the book. How could such an innocent little boy and a couple who tried to help a Jewish man hide from the Nazis die? This is when I began to think back to how death sets the stage for the story, by stating that death is ultimately inevitable. You never know when it will come for you or why, but unfortunately it is a fact of life. 
            Being that the Holocaust is one of my favorite topics to read or watch movies about, I was not at all surprised by the impact that The Book Thief would have on me. How could such a powerful and interesting story be one that I am just now taking the time to read? Either way, I am SO glad that this was a part of our reading assignment this week.  Considering I loved the book so much, I question whether watching the movie would change my mindset or ruin the imagery that I have created myself. I have always been the kind of person who likes to compare the film adaption to books, but I am not so sure if I want to do that this time. My minding is currently racing with so many important themes and critical aspects of the book, that I would hate to have them ruined by a poor film adaption (not that I am saying the film is in fact rubbish).  Sometimes you just need to leave things up to your imagination! 


  1. I know we have discussed a great deal of this book already, but I just had to leave one comment here. When I read your reaction to the part in the novel where Rosa, Hans and Rudy die, all I could think is, "war is hell." There are no winners, only survivors. Don't you think?

  2. I love that you discussed the narration of the story being told by death. In the video I posted on my blog I was shocked to find how how long it took for the author to come up with the idea of death narrating. It's hard to imagine that the book would have been narrated differently, which would COMPLETELY change the dynamics of the whole novel.
    I also have to agree with you. Usually I have no problems watching the movie only AFTER reading the novel. But this particular book is so powerful, that I wouldn't want to ruin the imagery in my head with someone else's thoughts and visions.