Narrative Techniques in the Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

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Narrative Techniques in
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is a novel by John Boyne. This novel is set during World War 2 and explores themes such as prejudice, racism, war, innocence and friendship. What sets it apart from other novels is that it uses a third person limited point of view, and mostly depicts events as they are seen by a young and naïve boy. This was one of the main narrative conventions that engaged me in this novel.

The point of view is the most interesting and important narrative convention of this novel. It is written in third person limited mostly from Bruno, the young boys, perspective. This means it does not use ‘I’ or ‘we’ but we do get to find out what the main character is thinking and almost the entire story is centred on him. Boyne has set this novel in a time and place where horrific and terrible things are happening, things so awful that Bruno’s family does not tell him anything about them. This all helps the reader feel a connection to Bruno, and also feel sympathy for him as he cannot understand the horrors occurring all around, and eventually to, him.

This means that he is still innocent and naïve and, as a result, there are many things that are implied rather than stated outright because Bruno cannot comprehend the true atrocities being committed. There are also simple mistakes he makes, such as thinking that Auschwitz is pronounced ‘Out-With’ and that the Fuehrer is pronounced ‘Fury’. This innocence and lack of understanding allows him to be a good and happy person even though he is so close to a concentration camp but also means he does nothing to help the situation and eventually is killed at a very young age. This also helped create a feeling of sympathy towards Bruno, but was taken too far at many stages when I just felt he was ignorant, and should have tried harder to understand his situation.

Another technique that Boyne uses to establish Bruno’s childishness is repetition. For...
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