Characterisation of Death – “The Book Thief”

“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 listened to their last, gasping cries. Their vanishing words. I watched their love visions and freed them from their fear.”

In the Book Thief, Markus Zusak has portrayed death with human qualities and emotions, which is interesting as death in literature is usually displayed as a non-human like character; usually as a grim reaper type creature with a scythe at his side. Although in the Book Thief, death wasn’t written like this which made it easier for the reader to understand his motives and actions as he was a more relatable character. The following quote is from Death after his first day at Auschwitz, “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 listened to their last, gasping cries. Their vanishing words. I watched their love visions and freed them from their fear.” This shows that death is actually a kind and caring person and not a monster that everyone perceives him to be.

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