“The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas” is a novel by John Boyne that tells the story of World War 2 through the eyes of a 9 year old German boy named Bruno, who is the son of a German commandant. Bruno lives with his sister, whom he calls “The Hopeless Case”, his mother, his father, and the house maid, Maria, in Berlin. “The Fury”, who is Adolf Hitler, comes to Bruno’s house, and promotes his position to a commandant, so the whole family moves to an eerie and lonely place called “Out With” for his father’s job. Bruno spends his days confined in the house, staring outside his window, where he sees many people wearing striped pyjamas on the other side of a fence. He is delighted when he finds a friend on the other side of the fence whilst exploring. Schmuel is a Jewish boy who has lost his whole family in the concentration camps, but is oblivious to the fact that they are dead. Every day, Bruno goes to the fence to meet with Schmuel, and the two boys very quickly form an unbreakable bond with each other. This story ends on a sad note, but shows the unquestionable meaning of companionship. Throughout this novel, Boyne depicts the beauty of a child’s innocence through the arduous times of war.
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This novel is set during World War 2, and the characters are adjacent to the Holocaust while it is going on, though the idea and theme of innocence in this novel could take place in modern day similar situations.
This novel is written in third person limited, so the narrator only has access to Bruno’s thoughts, and uses “he” instead of “I”. Boyne uses a way of implying what is going on, instead of directly telling us exactly what he wants to say, which may seem confusing, but it is rather easy to pick up his clues.
I was surprised that I liked this book, because it was written in a young child’s point of view, as it was interesting to see what Bruno was thinking because it shows the innocence that we all once possessed and never will possess again. I could recall many memories that I had as a child whilst reading this novel, such as moving to a new place and hating it at first, and making one close friend, but also feel heartache for Bruno because of his horrid and disloyal father. Furthermore, “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas” is a book that I would recommend to everyone, and one that I would definitely read again.
Book Reviewed by Jiayi Li
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