The narrator, Death, explains that he has a fair and sympathetic nature, and he carries away souls as gently as he can. He tries to notice colors before he takes away a human soul – usually the colors of the sky. His favorite is a chocolate-colored sky, but he notices thousands of shades over the course of even an hour, while most humans only notice the sky at dawn and dusk. Death tries to distract himself from his work by paying attention to the colors, as he can never take a break from his job.
The revelation of Death as narrator immediately introduces the fantastical into the story. This is not a traditionally morbid Death, but one with a complex visual sense and remorse for his grim work. Here he introduces the theme of color and beauty, which will connect to the idea of art offering a distraction from or method of processing suffering and death.
Death explains that it is the humans that survive – that are left behind when others they know die – that affect him the most, and that the story he is about to tell features "one of those perpetual survivors." Death vaguely introduces the elements of the story, which includes a girl, words, an accordionist, Germans, a Jewish fist fighter, and thievery. He reveals that he has seen "the book thief" three times.
The theme of death and surviving will become important – Death as narrator is a constant reminder of the looming fate of all the characters, but the human desire for life will create the tension of the story. Death introduces the narrative in an unconventional manner.