The Boy in Striped Pyjamas - this book will raise some emotions in even the most hardened. Prepare yourself for a page turner full of emotion.
This is a short, thought provoking story, told from the perspective of a 9 year old, about one of the most horrific events in history.
The style in the boy in striped pyjamas, is very simple but without doubt, it is a page turner.
The story begins in Berlin where a seemingly ordinary middle class family of Father, Mother, daughter(12) & son (9) live.
Soon, following a visit by "The Fury" & his girlfriend, the family leave Berlin for a place where the Father becomes the head of " The Farm" ,
which Bruno can see from his bedroom window.
Lonely & missing his Berlin friends, Bruno befriends Shmuel, from " The Farm," who like everyone else there, wears striped pyjamas. The rest of the story unfolds leaving the reader shocked.
The themes in the Boy with the striped pyjamas are about Evil,
Power & lack of it,
Blindness & the contrasting lives of Berlin & "The Farm."
To write anymore about them here would interfere with the story. All will become obvious.
Father, Mother, Gretel & Bruno live in Berlin.Father's growing importance is shown when he is promoted by " The Fury."
He is drawn in to what happens in the developing political situation.
Mother plays the accepted role of women at the time, as a housewife but later is horrified at what she sees & what happens. Gretel goes along with it all, taking in the propaganda & idolising "The Fury, whilst Bruno is totally blind to all that is going on.
This is difficult to believe as the story progresses.
The friendship of the two boys is touching & upsetting.
1. Would you recommend this book to a child? What might be the ideal age?
4. If you have seen the film, which did you prefer, that or the book? Why?
5. What in the story made the biggest impact on you?
6. Can someone born in 1971 write about the Holocaust?
Our bookclub 'enjoyed' this book and it provoked some interesting discussion. Overall it scored 8/10.
To many readers, there will be apparent weaknesses in the story. For instance, in reality, Shmuel would never be able to get to the perimeter fence so easily & regularly & surely it would be difficult for Bruno too to disappear so frequently.
Some will think that it is unlikely that Bruno would live so near to the fence but we know that it is very likely that he could have.
It is important to remember that the writer tells us that this story is a fable & the dictionary describes a fable as a story "conveying a moral." So perhaps we are meant to see Father as representing those who got caught up in it all;
Mother accepts a passive role but then rejects what she sees: Gretal represents those who accepted the propaganda & idolised her leader & Bruno represents blindness, for even today there are those who refuse to believe that what happened really did happen.
Yes, it is a short story but there is much to think about & discuss.
Our group discussed at great length whether someone who hadn't experienced the Holocaust can accurately write about it. There have been many victims who have been upset by the author, John Boyne for his poor depiction of life in a concentration camp. We found this article from the Sydney Morning Herald interesting:
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