The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

10 Kim has read The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas over the last two nights and I have been very impressed with their insightful discussion of the novel. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas depicts a fictional friendship set during World War II. Bruno, the son of a newly-promoted Nazi officer, moves with his family from a comfortable life in Berlin to a lonely existence in the countryside. An adventurous boy with nothing to do, Bruno ignores his mother’s instructions not to explore the back garden and takes off for a “farm” he has seen from his bedroom window. As he approaches a barbed wire fence, Bruno sees Shmuel, the boy in the striped pajamas, on the other side, and an unlikely and life-changing friendship develops. Author John Boyne describes his novel as a fable and explains, “considering the serious subject matter of this novel and the fact that I would be taking certain aspects of concentration camp history and changing them slightly in order to serve the story, I felt it was important not to pretend that a story like this was fully based in reality (which was also the reason why I chose never to use the word “Auschwitz” in the novel). My understanding of the term “fable” is a piece of fiction that contains a moral. I hope that the moral at the centre of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is self-evident to readers.”

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