The Boy in Striped Pyjamas Essay

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The boy in the striped pyjamas, written by John Boyne, has a compelling plot that brings to the foreground, in your face, through the innocent eyes of a nine year old boy, the compelling and horrors of war. This book has been written in third person limited and the narrator tells the story through the eyes of an obnoxious German boy, Bruno, who really does not understand what is going on. An odd friendship is formed between the son of a Nazi death camp commandant, and Shmuel, a young Jewish prisoner who lives in a concentration camp, close by to where Bruno lives. The Boy in the striped pyjamas is a story about a boy’s friendship between Bruno and Shmuel that tells the world of the horrors of the Holocaust, 1939, through the eyes of two nine year old boys. Bruno is the main character who is used by the author to portray to the reader the compelling horrors of war through the novel, The Boy in the striped pyjamas. We begin to learn much about Bruno’s character through the interaction between his Father, Mother, Sister, (Gretel) and his newly found friend, Shmuel. It would be difficult to comprehend and know the character of Bruno without the interactions of other characters within the novel, through the descriptive and figurative language used, and through the dialogue Bruno has with other characters in the novel. You learn through the boy’s conversation for example that on one side of the fence there are barracks and huts, and low square buildings, hunger, and smoke stacks. On the other is a home and garden. They build a friendship through remark and conversation, and although each of their situations is very different, it is through their conversations about their environments, that you learn more about each character. Throughout this novel, different relationships are formed with Bruno and you begin to learn more of Bruno through his conversations with them. One of the most important things with character relationships within a story is how differently characters are around other characters. In the relationship between Bruno and his sister and in particular, Shmuel, you begin to learn more about Bruno. In Bruno’s relationship with Shmuel, it shows a side to Bruno that you would have not seen in his interaction with his family. For example; you further learn through dialogue between Bruno and Shmuel, that Bruno is friendly, non judgemental and wanting to talk to anyone that will talk to him, he almost seems lonely and ‘desperate to not offend Shmuel’, which is evident in Bruno’s private thoughts written by the author. He has easily accepted his new found friend. As a reader it’s heartbreaking to realise that maybe Bruno is the only one that does not know where he is and what is going on and it is this that you feel sorry for Bruno. Through the boys’ friendship you learn more about the main character and you become aware, from both their viewpoints that this relationship should not really be happening and although Bruno seems quite insightful he still does not know what is going on. You get this idea from a particular conversation between Bruno and Shmuel, when Shmuel says to Bruno, “We're not supposed to be friends, you and me. We're meant to be enemies. Did you know that?” Shmuel knew exactly what was going on. It is the conversations of comparisons of their own lives, by the boys, that you begin to see the ugly truth of the war and your ideas of Bruno’s character begin to change as a reader. Importantly is the relationship that Bruno builds with the character Shmuel. The author has cleverly made their dates of birth on the same day. This immediately forms a strong basis for an instant friendship as they already have found something in common, despite all the differences between them (p.109). You learn a lot about each character through their differences and similarities and through the eyes of innocent children and you gain an understanding of the Holocaust. The relationship with Bruno and his sister, Gretel, is...
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