The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
“Ah, those people,’ said Father, nodding his head and smiling slightly. ‘Those people… well, they’re not people at all, Bruno.” This sentence is one out of many that gave me goose bumps. The way John Boyne brings something up is very good I think, the childish view on something so horrible made me think even more about this terrible history.
‘A book that lingers in the mind for quite some time’ – Irish Times
‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’ made a deep impact on me. The novel was written in 2006, by the Irishman John Boyle. Referring to John Boyle himself he wrote this book’s first draft, unlike his other novels, in just two and a half days. I think I understand why, because this story of a nine-year-old German boy moving to Auschwitz during the World War II, gets into your head at once, but will not get out fast. So the reason this book moved me, and it will linger in my head for a while, is because of the point of view I presume. The most terrible thing in history seen through the eyes of an innocent boy.
Bruno, the main character, is a German boy who moves to ‘Out-With’ because his father is promoted after a visit from ‘The Fury’. Bruno discovers Shmuel, a Jewish boy of the same age, but on the other side of the fence, they become friends, without someone knowing it. The two boys have no single idea of what is going on and why Shmuel is wearing pyjamas and is forced to do things in a ‘sort of camp’. After a while Bruno returns to Berlin with his mother and sister, so the two boys decide to do an last thing together: search for Shmuel’s disappeared father. Arrived in the camp a group of soldiers takes the two of them along with some other Jewish men to a place to “shelter for the rain” as Bruno says, unfortunately he is not right, they are being gassed instead.
‘Stays just ahead of its readers before delivering its killer punch in the final pages’ – Independent
The book is written in an easy linguistic usage, and I think the writer did this to strengthen the effect of the story. There are so many things a boy of that age could say in a situation like Bruno’s, and I think John Boyne picked just the right ones. I have always realised how horrible this period of war was, but because of the book’s childish and realistic perspective, I realised even more how dreadful and insane it was what people did to each other. An example of the childish and innocent way of thinking is when Bruno is wondering what Shmuel’s house looks like, if it contains a bath or shower, and what kind of games Shmuel plays in the camp with his friends and family.
So concluding in my opinion it is a beautiful story, with good overall descriptions, but I especially like the thought- and movement-descriptions of the young boy. You almost start to think as Bruno to, because what is the difference between Shmuel and Bruno after all? Shmuel is sitting on one side of the fence, and Bruno on the other, that is all.