Summary and Analysis Part 10: The Book Thief: The End of the World (Part I)



Death foreshadows the bombs that will come to Himmel Street and the murder of all those whom Liesel loves — her Mama, her Papa, and Rudy. Words will save her, though. She will be down in the basement reading. She will tap a pencil against a paint can and men will hear her and dig her out from the rubble, still clutching the book.


Here, Death reveals not only the devastation that will come to Himmel Street and to Liesel's world, but he also illustrates how words are responsible for saving Liesel's life. Previously, words had saved her by giving her a powerful voice. Now, Death tells us that words will physically save Liesel by keeping her in the basement and out of harm's way when the bombs fall on Himmel Street. Also, by prematurely revealing the bombing and the deaths that it will cause, Death adds to the tension of the story, as well as to the sense of foreboding that the reader feels. The placement of this chapter just after Hans's homecoming is notable, too, in that it does not allow us to become too comfortable with the story or too happy for Liesel as Death quickly informs us that more devastating hardships are to come. Again, both the lightness and darkness in Liesel's life are closely intertwined.

Death's use of foreshadowing also allows Liesel's kiss with Rudy, which comes after she finds his lifeless body, to take center stage during the actual scene itself. By giving us the details of the bombings early, Death can later focus more on Liesel's emotional response to her discovery of Rudy's body, as well as the bodies of Hans and Rosa, and Hans's accordion.