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Essay on Alienation

By Lazyman101 Dec 04, 2012 1022 Words
The holocaust was one of worst and most thorough massacres man has ever experienced and John Boyne has told more than just a story he has shown us a significant issue through his novel, “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas”. John Boyne has given universal messages that are relevant to present generations from years prior to the current time period, and he uses the key elements of literature for example voice, plot, symbolism and characterization to convey these messages and to help us to relate to and understand that such insolence must never happen again. John Boyne’s “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas” tells more than a story by, using the context of the holocaust he shows the reader the political background and setting for the book. The books political background is the set during Hitler’s Nazi reign over Germany and the introduction of the “Final Solution of the Jewish Question” which stood for the genocide of thousands of Jews and this is portrayed in the novel, “they smell even worse when they’re burnt”, which is a quote from one of the young soldiers stationed at Auschwitz extermination camp or Out-With, showing the extent of the Nazi’s hatred of Jews at time and the conformity and obedience that the Nazi campaign placed on children and young adults, which is also demonstrated when Bruno salutes his father when leaving his study, consequently informing us about a significant issue and helping us to understand the universal message behind this text, which is what the holocaust was, an act of inhumane destruction of life and will never happen again. Boyne also tells a great story using the key elements of literature, he is able to involve the reader in the events of the novel, such as characterization which is used to describe the main character Bruno, also when Bruno first glimpses Shmuel, similarly when he is describing his sister Gretel (to quote as a “hopeless case”) and the characters of Gretel’s friends, along with Lieutenant Kotler who he first describes as a serious young man with blonde hair, in uniform not as grand as his fathers, by doing this Boyne is showing the types of emotions Bruno has for different people. Therefore by using this element the novel is also using narrative voice to overlay a thematic technique of innocence which is used to try and keep the audience on edge and asking questions about why Bruno isn’t getting the hints, narrative voice is used in 3rd person form but in this book it is different because it is following just Bruno and we are getting his thoughts and not from anybody else, therefore we are constantly battered with questions from Bruno and jumping from ideas, which is a “child’s stream of consciousness”. This novel also takes advantage of symbolism to convey different meanings, such as the barriers of the window and the fence which symbolise the differences between Shmuel’s life of captivity and Bruno’s life of freedom and the fact that they break/crawl under those barriers and have a strong relationship without fear of the consequences, this is also shown with the ground inside the fence as just dirt with no grass or trees and the environment outside the fence as grass and tress yet there relationship is tested at one point when Bruno is asked whether he gave Shmuel some cake, he ends up lying and getting Shmuel in trouble but Shmuel is able to forgive Bruno, thus letting us sample an example of an essence of friendship and that they will be friends for life unlike the friends Bruno had back in Berlin. The window also symbolises a point of view which is used to entice the audience and in this book Boyne doesn’t tell you right away what is out the window he draws it out so as to create suspense and by using the “child’s stream of consciousness” he is able to use a flashback then answer what was out the window, by doing this he able to keep the reader interested, therefore adding to the idea of more than just a story and the universal message that every person is my brother. The book also uses an element of plot to emphasize the fact that this story is trying to tell more by using a slightly different beginning, John Boyne follows the start of a mystery by withholding information but then gives you the information needed later in the book through flashback but before the flashback he leaves you in suspense then after a flashback it ends the suspense, so he is always keeping the structure the same as a child’s mind (up, down, back in time and forward), thus showing what Bruno is thinking and you are in his head, one such point is when Bruno is being patched up by Pavel after falling from his DIY swing, and says to Pavel “how would you know you’re not a doctor” and Pavel replies “I was, long before I came here”, this was a learning point for Bruno and also the basis for one of the major themes which, ‘Acts of humanity’, Pavel could have chosen not to help Bruno because of what the Germans did, but instead he ignored that fact and chose to help because of his past he inclined to help, Bruno could have done the same thing to help Shmuel but chose not too out of fear of what would happen to him. But it is the universal message that ends up helping Bruno befriend Shmuel, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. Clearly the holocaust must never happen again and hopefully by understanding that we must not conform to society but to follow the universal messages and the themes interlaced in “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas” of not judging, act of humanity, accepting that we are all the same, true friendship and that genocide won’t help, will hopefully broaden humanity’s view like little Bruno, that is why this book is not just a good novel and hopefully lead us to stop and pause about the significant issues like the Holocaust.

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