The story of the Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, Shmuel in this case, is uncharacteristically hard to describe. Bruno, a vividly wild adventurer, tells his story as a typical 9-year old boy should, contrary to the judgement of his older sister Gretal. All we can establish from the front cover is a modern recurring theme of discrimination; A plain cover indicating a subtle atmosphere, which is an absolutely preposterous thought, and Striped: Showing no individuality or pride, with printed writing, the separation of peoples identities, replaced by numbers.
The audience is important to this young author (Bruno), as they embark on an unusual journey, filled with narrow border-lines separating right and wrong, black and white, and different religious beliefs. A punch line, “More than satisfactory,” basically confuses the well structured plot and the storyline is surfing on the reader’s imagination – What an incredible technique. As the gloom of death encloses them, another flickering twist is mercifully tossed into the picture. A book that lingers in the mind for quite some time as he manipulates different groups of people to take abrupt action, and prove one man can make a difference.
The ironic synopsis this story so desperately craves. The intention of this book is clear, a star studded thought by a superb author captures the seeds of guilt in an innocent party’s mind and blossoms them into a flourish of disbelief. A modern day technique of emotional advertising has been mastered and the history behind the book, portrays the effortless research designated for his work and plays with the guilty aspect, manipulating people into helping the discriminated, and reflecting on our worlds harshest aspects of history, and take action to prevent such a thing ever recurring.
Obviously, we have not previously heeded his advice. If history was a mistake then so is our being, but we can help save something great… a life? Bruno, a young boy, as inquisitive as the majority, is practically forced, due to his father’s position as an established soldier in Hitler’s government, to moved to ‘Out-With,’ situated in the outer regions of Poland. After leaving his five-story house in inner city Berlin, the immediat3e change is hard to cope with and takes up a far exceeded amount of the book and is hard to acquaint yourself with the plot outline. A journey of nothing.
As the language features begin to increase, so does the tension. The concentration camps are introduced and more innocent Jews are brutally murdered, and action packed complication. An exceedingly bias teacher, Herr Liszt is introduced to the children to educate them of the economic situation. His father, Ralf, unfortunately loved his job superior to his family, and his commitment for his job constantly undermined his family life, whilst his wife, Elsa, was pushed uncomfortably close to Lieutenant Kotler, the fiery tempered soldier who severely bullied the Jewish workers such as Shmuel and Pavel.
Later on in this recount, as Bruno flees the grounds of there new home to explore, he consequently edges closer to the fence where a dot becomes a speck which becomes a figure which becomes a boy named Shmuel. Not only are there birthdays coincidently on the same day, but they have more in common than they first realised. They grew close as Bruno continued to bring the young Jew food, visited him secretly and eventually a strong friendship was carved despite denying this to Lieutenant Kotler, punishing Shmuel for his actions.
As the putrid stench flowing from the chimneys grew stronger, Elsa decided to return to Berlin to raise her treasures in a sterile environment, leaving Bruno a final chance to support the young Jewish boy he befriended. On this final tear-jerking visit, Bruno foolishly agrees to assist Shmuel in his search for his missing father, who unknown to him, has already been killed by the Nazis, and joins him on the other side of the fence in striped pyjamas and a bold head (due to lice infection) to look the part.
However, this exploration backfires and the two young boys, reunited in friendship are forcefully instructed to go on a final march, consequently leading them to a gas chamber to be brutally murdered as millions had died before them, triggering a stomach-wrenching search from the grieving family. Moreover, such defences were far more superior and any contact with the outside world was not only prohibited but impossible to gain. I am not one for patronising children, however, there are those who believe that dark subject matter like the Holocaust should not trouble young minds, but I could not disagree more.
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is a remarkable, shocking, and moving story that succeeds brilliantly in teaching about this monumental act of evil to those who have yet to learn of it. Although strictly forbidden to explore the woods beyond his back garden, Bruno ventures forth one day and comes to the electrified barb wire of what he believes is a farm where the workers wear pyjamas. But as the horrible truth slowly begins to reveal itself, Bruno finds himself asking some very difficult questions.
It is here that certain flaws in the story become impossible to ignore. For instance, although this book has a measure of historical accuracy, there would have been no way the relationship between Shmuel and Bruno would have been possible, as children taken to death camps were not kept as workers but killed immediately. Other plot contrivances stretch credibility to breaking point, but having said that disbelief is willingly suspended provided the story is viewed as a fable, rather than a historically accurate piece.
For the ending alone, this is a story worth suspending disbelief for, but more on that later. Moreover, such defences were far more superior and any contact with the outside world was not only prohibited but impossible to gain. Additionally, the Fehrer is far too vulnerable as a controversial leader to willingly attend a house meeting in this time of delicacy and the astonishing lack of security on the fence would have been unheard of in Hitler’s plan, confidently reassuring us this book is a book of historical fiction with minimal accuracy.
Although the tension between the Jewish and the fiery soldiers on the frontline, i. e. Lieutenant was imminent, this was not sustained through the rest of the characters and the occasional sympathy was only conveyed through Elsa’s reactions, stating the clear indifferencial research into the war relationships. Viewed with adult knowledge, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is excruciatingly painful to watch. The innocent eyes through which Bruno sees the camp, and the way he tries to make absurd rationalisations about the madness around him is agonising.
Yet because he is only eight, his age protects him from the anti-Semitic indoctrinations of his father, grandfather, the other soldiers and his tutor. One particularly heartbreaking moment sees Bruno invite Shmuel to one day come and play at his house in Berlin “when everyone has stopped being angry with each other”. Unfortunately, his elder sister Gretel is too old to be innocent. She puts away her dolls and laps up the Nazi propaganda with a truly chilling zeal.
In conclusion, the book was an extremely captivating and emotional story and can honestly empathise with how this is such a moving yet complex story. A must read for al those fictitious readers looking for historical fiction to side “Private Peaceful. ” Despite this appealing to all ages, it is unfortunately not a great piece of historical reference and accuracy. Regardless of the fact the torture methods and working/living conditions are remotely true, through my own historical knowledge; I understand that mustard gas was used to kill them.
However, in more factors than not this book is purely amusing fiction. Surprisingly, I did like this book by John Boyne, as a piece of historical fiction, and not accuracy, These books are especially good for young children, to inform them of the dangers and injustice in the world that they are living in and are striving to prevent. Overall I value this as a moderately exciting read to educate youths into the modern economic climate as the characters do. It is a world of possibilities and adventures outweigh cold facts.