The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is a story about a nine year old boy, Bruno, who lives in Nazi Germany as a Nazi Commandant’s son. He is eventually relocated from Germany to Poland due to his father’s job and is housed in a small, underpopulated area named Out-With (Auschwitz). As a nine year old, he is naturally curious and loves to adventure. Because of the small magnitude of his own house, he must go outside and see for himself what it is about this place that makes him hate it so. Eventually, after about an hour of walking along the large barbed fence, he sees something… It appears to be a dot, then a speck, now a blob, or is that a figure? yes! It’s a boy. This boy’s name is Shmuel, and he is Jewish.
This novel is very interesting, the story itself is lacking in the plot department, but the characters are really what make it a good read. I thought the perspective was an interesting change in pace from the Holocaust survivors to the actual Nazi’s children, but this is an awfully popular book topic so I have read something similar to it before. Other than this, the book in a whole had a good message about it. It reminds us that no one is born evil and that the environment in which one grows up effects how they see the world.
Some reasons I think the plot of this book can be better: there is no plot… none at all, the whole story is in a nine year old’s head and it can get very frustrating reading a story about how someone doesn’t like their sister. Some improvements that could be made are that the author could have included some conflict. The book’s only conflict is at two points: when Bruno’s sister, Gretel, finds out about Shmuel (she finds out because Bruno accidentally told her), and when Shmuel is (for some reason) at Bruno’s house cleaning dishes and Bruno sneaks him food, with Shmuel worrying about his Nazi guard finding him eating with Bruno. The ending can be seen as the conflict, but it only lasts about 15 pages out of 216 so I wanted more.
The characters of this story are actually relatable and honest to the history. It makes people like them more. I only really liked two characters though: these two being Shmuel and Bruno’s grandmother. (This is just one reason I like Shmuel)Shmuel constantly talked about how horrible ALL of the soldiers were and when Bruno contradicted him, saying his father was good, Shmuel corrected him and said all the soldiers are bad, I wanted to hug him. The grandmother was great too, she blatantly disowned her son for being a Nazi commander and never talked to him again before she died which I thought was amazing and respected her for stating this out loud, in public, in NAZI GERMANY!
Again, the message of this book is great too, reminding us that no one is born evil and that the environment in which one grows up effects how they see the world. The fact that Bruno hadn’t been taught thoroughly about the Fury’s(Fuhrer’s) plans gave him the chance to sympathize and be innocent. He could love people that he saw no reason to hate. What is emphasized in this child is so important as to how people should live their lives traditionally, to not hate others because it is the status quo but to love them. It is so much easier to love others than it is hate them, hate takes energy and fury while love takes acceptance and gives peace.
I think some people need to read this book more than others and realize that hate or even support of hate is wrong and leads to horrible, viscous things.
Read the Quote of the Week, it’s relevant.