Gather Yourselves Together discussion

April > Introduction

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message 1: by Erich (new)

Erich Franz Linner-Guzmann (erichfranzlinnerguzmann) | 81 comments The narrator of this book is Death… how could you not like this book with the narrator being Death himself. I thought Death gave a great introduction. I didn’t outright tell you he was Death but through riddles and rhythm it became obvious. He seems to be of good nature and the loosening of souls from their bodies is only his job.

I found it interesting that the part of his job that bothered him the most were the survivors that had to be left behind. It shows that the places he takes the souls are better than the war driven places that he takes them from. Death to him almost seems like a blessing.

Death saw The Book Thief 3 times he says. I don’t know whether that is a good thing or not. To me it means that The Book Thief came close to death 3 times or has been near 3 people that have died. Either way I assume she is a survivor.

message 2: by Becca (new)

Becca | 160 comments The fact that it is death narrating the book scares me. I have already been warned I will cry at the end, but now I worry I will cry through the whole book.

message 3: by Meredith (new)

Meredith | 155 comments I was thinking the same thing. Since Death saw her 3 times and one of them wasn't when he was collecting her soul, I hope that she survives. But I'm with Becca, too--I'm pretty sure I will cry.

That being said, I also really liked Death's introduction. The part about all the different colors was really interesting.

message 4: by Peachy (new)

Peachy (peachybooksca) Hello All,

I've noticed that Death refers to the smell and taste of colours in his ramblings. I wonder if this is because he is more intune with his senses, or if this is just another way for him to try and distract himself from his hopeless work.

Maybe you have an idea about it?

Here is but one quote from the first chapter that highlights what I'm talking about, but you will find from reading on that these references occur throughout the novel.

"Personally, I like a chocolate-colored sky. Dark, dark chocolate. People say it suits me. I do, however, try to enjoy every color I see - the whole spectrum. A billion or so flavors, none of them quite the same, and a sky to slowly suck on. It takes the edge off the stress. It helps me relax."

message 5: by Tiffany (new)

Tiffany | 194 comments Mod
I'm glad you've joined in Peachy!

I think it's a little bit of both. I bet he is more in tune with his senses and is able to see color (maybe like some people claim they can see the color of other people's aura's???) but it seems he uses it as a welcome distraction, so that he doesn't have to focus on the living who are left behind.

It took me awhile to understand the beginning of the book, but I guess that's what I get for only ever listening to books, so I can't actually see the words. I understood it was Death talking, I just couldn't understand what he was talking about. So, about an hour into listening to it, I started it over and it all made complete sense. So, now that I have done that, I am starting to enjoy the book.

Becca, maybe your tears of sadness over this book will help to distract the sadness over "The Name of the Wind". Maybe Meredith had divine knowledge when she chose this book. Is it true Meredith? You knew all along, didn't you, that we would need another book to cry over.

On a different note, it seems interesting to me that Death would be the narrator of a YA book, as I would have seriously probably been scared when I was a Young Adult myself. But Eric explained it all to me, and I would like to invite him to explain to everyone else. So, if you would please... ;)

message 6: by Meredith (new)

Meredith | 155 comments That's an interesting question. I think it might be a bit of both. From the quote, it sounds like he is using it to distract himself. But I think he probably is more in tune with his senses too. Since he's not mortal (I'm not exactly sure what he is, but definitely not like the rest of us), that probably helps. For instance, my sense of sight is limited a lot by the fact that I need to wear glasses or contacts. When I've got a cold, I can't smell anything. And you always hear about how little of our brains we really use. So maybe if we had perfect bodies and could use more of our potential, our senses would be amazing like Death's.

Wow, that became really philosophical and deep. I didn't really think it would when I started out. Hopefully it makes sense.

message 7: by Meg (new)

Meg Sherman (megsherman) | 85 comments Amazing intro--I bet I would have liked it so much more if I hadn't already known that Death was the narrator. I do hate a solved puzzle.

But I love the way Death smells the colors, tastes the sky, etc.! It re-emphasizes his non-human nature to me. It also sends me on a sensual journey, wondering what it would be like to suck on a chocolate sky (sounds groovy--I'm pretty much a fan of chocolate ANYTHING). This would make for a WICKED movie visually--if they actually made an effort to maintain the narrator's POV, anyway.

Overall, my favorite thing was the use of second person address. It gave me chills to read the sentence: "A SMALL FACT: You are going to die." It's so visceral and in-your-face. I feel more directly involved in the story from the outset. And Death's little asterisked interjections invariable crack me up. What a brilliant idea--Death as a narrator. I can't believe, especially with our legacy of morality plays and the like, that no one's thought of this before!

message 8: by Meg (new)

Meg Sherman (megsherman) | 85 comments Interesting question: Death claims on the first page: "I'm nothing if not fair." I just don't agree with that... and I have a feeling I'll agree with it even less by the time I close this book...

message 9: by Tiffany (new)

Tiffany | 194 comments Mod
Sorry we all had to ruin it for you that Death is the narrator. :)

Why do you not agree with that statement? It seems he didn't really choose to be Death, if you will, but has always just collected the bodies of the dead. That is his purpose and no other.

message 10: by Meg (new)

Meg Sherman (megsherman) | 85 comments Oh no, no, no... YOU guys didn't ruin it for me. I already knew Death was the narrator before we even considered the book. It's the first thing anyone mentions about the novel in reviews and recommendations, as I suppose it should be. I would have figured it out in the first chapter, anyway, I guess... so it didn't really ruin anything.

I still don't believe Death is fair, though. Certain. Inevitable. Unbiased, perhaps, but not FAIR. If Death were FAIR, little children would never be taken. All the good guys would live forever, and the villains would perish before they could do any real damage (or at least in the very moment that they did so). Even if you operate under the assumption that the next world is a better place, then the BAD guys shouldn't deserve to die. And if you assume a heaven/hell duality, then we should all just die immediately after it's determined to which destination we belong and get there as soon as possible. But from any viewpoint, Death is still unfair. To me, fairness entails everyone getting what they deserve. So I'll agree that Death is unbiased. But UNBIASED is still not FAIR.

I still love the character of Death in the book. He's actually my favorite part of the story. I don't think he intentionally lied about his own "fairness," I just get this feeling that he's justifying. That entire introduction actually feels like a justification to me. What do you guys think?

message 11: by Meredith (new)

Meredith | 155 comments Oh definitely. I really felt like he was lying a bit. At one point doesn't he say that he's not nice? That's obviously a lie. He has to do a lot of things that people don't consider to be nice, but his relationship with Liesel and his observations about Rudy, especially, prove that he's nice.

I like your thoughts about being unbiased vs. fair. I hadn't thought of it that way. In some ways, though, I think Death is fair. After all, death is the great equalizer, the one thing that we'll all get in the end. No one can escape it. The way it happens might not be fair, but I think the universality (is that a word?) of Death is fair. So I guess I'm undecided about the fairness of death.

message 12: by Meg (new)

Meg Sherman (megsherman) | 85 comments That is actually true, about the universality of Death (which I'm 85% sure IS a word). I think it depends on how you define FAIR. Does "fair" mean something is "unbiased, impartial" or "justified, deserved"? Everything on earth depends on definitions.

message 13: by Tiffany (new)

Tiffany | 194 comments Mod
See, I don't think of Death as the one who is really taking the life of people. Sure, he literally takes the life of a person (their soul) but he's not the one ending their time on earth. That would be God or nature or whatever you believe in that is taking their life. He's just kind of the clean up crew. That's how I see it.

message 14: by Meg (new)

Meg Sherman (megsherman) | 85 comments That's true, I agree. Now that I've finished the book I understand Death (and his job description) a lot more clearly than I did when reading the intro. Death turned out being my favorite character! Surprising.

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