Why is Death's statistical record of Liesel's book-stealing significant in The Book Thief?    

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Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Death’s statistical record of Liesel’s book-stealing is significant specifically because it highlights Liesel’s resistance to the Nazi regime.  In spite of this resistance, Liesel continues to avoid death.  This interests the character of Death. 

The main way Liesel resists the Nazi regime is highlighted in the title.  Liesel vows to “steal” books.  The books Liesel steals under the watchful eye of the Nazis are many in number:  The Grave Diggers Handbook, Faust the Dog, The Lighthouse, The Shoulder Shrug, Mein Kampf, The Whistler, The Dream Carrier, Song in the Dark, and The Complete Dulden Dictionary and Thesaurus.  The character of Death gives us the statistical record of each.  The numbers are significant.  Liesel’s resistance would be less if she stole only one book.  Instead, she steals nine:  a large number for a young, German girl.  The Nazi resistance is highlighted even further due to the many characters involved:  Max, Rudy, the mayor’s wife, etc. 

In conclusion, we know that the character of Death is interested in Liesel even more because of her survival.  Keep in mind that it is Death who tells the story.  Death tells us at the beginning that Liesel is one of the very few interesting people he has come across.