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Serena Sluski.


Mr. Kott


November 30, 2018

How Death is Haunted By Humans

Markus Zusak's ​The Book Thief​ is a book with many hidden messages. The novel

begins with a mysterious narrator, Death, who claims over and over again that he is

haunted by humans. Throughout the novel the narrator gives different reasons on why

he is haunted by humans. Death is “haunted” by humans because of; How people die,

the survivors, & the colours.

To begin, Death is haunted by humans due to how some people die. Throughout

this novel Death says many times that he finds it funny how people die. “Humans if

nothing else have the good sense to die.” At first Death makes it seem like humans are

doing him a favour by dying, and you think this will only come up once. Death than

continues leaving more quotes like this one throughout the story. “It kills me sometimes,

how people die.” Even at this point it just seems like Death is mocking humans by the

way they die. Then again Death says, “To live. Living is living. The price was guilt and

shame.” After this quote it becomes very clear that when Death says he is haunted by

humans he does not mean it like that. Death saying he is haunted by humans is his way

of saying that he is constantly thinking of them. To sum up Death is “haunted” by

humans because of how they die. He is constantly thinking about how and when they


The second reason on why Death is haunted by humans is because of “The

survivors”. Early on in the story we find out that Death is not very fond of the humans

that are supposed to die but instead lived. It is made clear that they taunt him and his

head. “The survivors. They're the ones I can't stand to look at.” In this quote Death is

talking about the people who cheat death. The ones that were supposed to die but didn't

and the ones he now has to think about roaming the earth. Shortly before this happened

Death says, “Its the leftover humans”. When Death says this it just sounds like he's

talking about the survivors again and it's not a big deal. But in this quote I believe Death

is referring to humans as an object to make it sound like he doesn't care. At this point

we are starting to realize that most of the things Death says and does are used as a

distraction. “As I've been alluding to, my one saving grace is distraction. It keeps me

sane.” To sum up Death constantly obsesses over the ones who survived. He says that

they haunt him but really they fascinate him and that's why he tries to distract himself

every chance he gets.

The final reason on why Death is haunted by humans is because of the colours.

At the beginning of the story we here death talk about the colours with excruciating

details. Even at some points he refers to the colours as the only thing keeping him sane.

“So many humans. So many colours. They keep triggering inside me. They harrass my

memory.” When I first read this quote I only wanted to use it because it said “so many

colours”. Looking back at the quote it sounds like Death was thinking about humans and

then he threw in colours to distract himself. It becomes very clear by the end of the
book, that the colours are the only thing distracting Death from humans. That is exactly

what is happening during that quote. On page 4 Death goes into great detail about the

colours he sees. His splurge of words comes right after a rant about humans.

“Waxy-yellows, cloud-spat blues. Murky darknesses. In my line of work, I make it a point

to notice them.” After this quote is said most readers (including myself) just ignored

what he said and did not clue in that the colours were a distraction. To sum up it took a

while to realize that Death was actually obsessed with humans instead of “haunted” by

them, like he claims. Even though the book ends off with :“I said it to the book thief and i

say it now to you. I am haunted by humans.” Death is using the word “haunted” in the

place of fascinated, or obsessed.

In conclusion many people think that the word haunted is used in this novel as if

Death is afraid of humans. The whole story Death tries to avoid thinking or talking about

humans to keep him distracted. Death is constantly thinking about how people die, the

survivors and the colours. When Death thinks about the colours it is not suppose to

have any relation to humans (because it's a distraction) but in a way the colours trigger

him more. In the end of the story Death tells us that there is no avoiding it he is truly

“haunted” by humans. By this Death just means no matter how hard he tries, he will

always think of how people die. The survivors. The colours

Work Cited

Zusak, Markus. The Book Thief New York. Alfred Knopf, 2007 print.

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