John Boyne has created a sophisticated and meaningful novel in The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas through his thematic analysis of power which explores society’s perception of authority; his symbolic representation of the fence which starkly exposes Bruno’s ignorance of cultural divisions; and ﬁnally, his characterisation of Mother revealing the fraught atmosphere during the Holocaust.
The theme of power is explored in this novel through authoritative ﬁgures and their presentation in society.The character of Father displays his newfound sovereignty with ostentatiousness, and Bruno observes this closely. He notes how Father’s actions often lead to an instantaneous response, stating, “Father held a hand in the air, which immediately caused the other men to fall silent. It was as if he was a conductor of a barbershop quartet.” Bruno also explains how this shapes his relationship with his father, admitting that “he felt both scared and in awe of him.” Father’s governmental status causes him to be attributed with power, and hence not only his colleagues but also his family regard him with veneration.
The character of “the Fury” also exposes the theme of power. His merciless reputation has earned him a name which is feared in itself. Father prepares the children for the Fury’s visit, declaring that “If the Fury ignores you then you do not say anything either, but look directly ahead and show him the respect and courtesy that such a great leader deserves.” This demonstrates how the Fury is apprehended because of his rank. The characterisation of these two men explores society’s perception of power, and how we allow those with high social status to manipulate us because we fear them.This complex analysis of humanity and society creates sophistication and meaning in the text. Boyne uses symbolism to depict his ideas in a more implicit nature. One example of this is the fence. The fence is featured throughout the novel, both in physical representation and in the ideas...
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