The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
The boy in the striped pyjamas is a profanation. This fictional novel by author John Boyne is set in the early 1940’s and tells the tale of a German boy’s friendship with a Jewish boy imprisoned within a concentration camp. Whilst the novel is moving, clever and seemingly informative, it is actually an inaccurate account of the Holocaust and as such, may misinform readers who have no other knowledge of this time in history.
A profanation is defined as blasphemous behavior; the act of depriving something of its sacred character; "desecration of the Holy Sabbath" and also degradation of something worthy of respect; cheapening. To take something as horrific as the Holocaust and reduce it to this fictional work is both inaccurate and insulting to the memories of the six million people who died.
Author John Boyne has written this novel in a style that is designed to inform and educate those of us with little knowledge of the events in World War Two and bring a better understanding of what was happening in camps all over Europe. Instead the history has been skewed and almost romanticized by telling the story through the eyes of a character that is both unbelievable and inaccurate.
Rabbi Benjamin Blech has written an article in response to The Boy in The Striped Pyjamas in an attempt to point out some of the holes in the story but also to bring to light the fact that this is in fact a work of fiction and not a historically correct account of the time.
The character of Bruno is most definitely one that readers can empathize with and who is really very charming and likeable. His innocence and ignorance are endearing, and although he has obvious character flaws, these are really just normal behaviours of a child of his age, so we tend not to judge him harshly. However, according to Rabbi Blech, the children of this time in Germany were “weaned on hatred of the Jews as subhuman...