Foreshadowing in The Book Thief

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  • 0:03 What is Foreshadowing?
  • 0:48 Foreshadowing in 'The…
  • 1:08 Part One
  • 1:55 Part Five
  • 2:27 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shelley Vessels

Shelley has taught at the middle school level for 10 years and has a master's degree in teaching English.

This lesson focuses on the literary device of foreshadowing. We'll look at how the narrator of 'The Book Thief' pulls readers in by using foreshadowing throughout the novel.

What Is Foreshadowing?

Imagine this. Your birthday is coming up, and your mom is dropping subtle hints about your birthday present. ''You will love to snuggle your present,'' she says. ''Your present is going to require a lot of work and attention.'' ''Your present will be your furry best friend.'' ''You're going to need to go on daily walks once your birthday comes.''

Any guesses as to what the present might be?

Was this your guess?

If your mother was the narrator of your birthday story, and those hints are being dropped from time to time beforehand, then she'd be using something called foreshadowing. Foreshadowing is a literary device where the author - usually through a narrator - gives clues about something that will happen later in the story. Sometimes the clues are subtle; sometimes they're more obvious. Either way, it's a way to engage the reader in the story.

Foreshadowing in The Book Thief

Death, our peculiar narrator in The Book Thief, is a big fan of foreshadowing events throughout the novel. Because the narrator is Death, most of the time it creates tension around the details that are offered. Death knows all that happens in one's final moments, so when he chimes in about a particular character, the reader can't help but get a pit in his/her stomach.

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