The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
By: John Boyne
Annotated Book Review
In the historical fiction novel The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne, 9-year-old Bruno must make the hard move from busy Berlin to a holocaust camp which he calls “Out-With” for his father’s demanding military job. Bruno has always heard things like “it’s all for Father’s job” and “were so proud of Father’s job,” but he then realized, he didn’t quite know what Father’s job was. In this heart wrenching story, two boys with very different lives cross paths and become a very unlikely pair of friends.
After Bruno comes home from school to find his maid packing his things into crates, his mother tells him that he must say goodbye to his friends because they are moving for father’s job. When he arrived at Out-With, he wasn’t very impressed; he was actually very disappointed. He was not happy with the change and neither was his sister, Gretel. After a couple of weeks at Out-With, Bruno decided it was time to find something to do. His house in Berlin had many stories and always had a new place for Bruno to explore.
After many altercations with the soldiers, which they called him “little man,”Bruno went to do some exploring like he had always done in Berlin. He found himself walking along a barbed wire fence with no ending that he could see. After a while he decided he had done enough exploring for the day; that was until he could see “a speck, which turned into a dot, which turned into a figure, which turned into a boy.” Shmuel was sitting on the ground with his legs crossed. They spoke and became friends, and months later Bruno realized they had been meeting at the same spot and he had been walking the same distance along the barbed wire fence for a year.
I feel Boyne did a very good job creating the characters and telling the story. While there were many great aspects of the book, Boyne let me down at the ending. I feel that he just stuck the last chapter on the end of the book to finish it and it could have been a lot better. I had all of these predictions in my head of what the ending would be like and I think it could have been so much better.
On the other hand, I really loved how the author made the novel out of the point of view of a naive 9-year-old boy. For me that just made the story better because it showed the holocaust in a young boys mind and what it was like for all of the kinds even though he had the better luck of the draw not being in a concentration camp. Once again I think John Boyne did a great job with telling this story other than the lousy ending in my opinion.
While The Boy in the Striped Pajamas had both its strengths and weaknesses, I feel Boyne did a really great job telling the story of the holocaust from a child's point of view. I would rate this book a 4 out of 5 stars and would definitely recommend it to any reader that thinks they're mature enough to handle the harsh truths of the holocaust.
Based on my research I would say that the concept of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is historically accurate, but the novel itself isn’t full of truth. Boyne makes it very clear in the book that Bruno is a naive young boy. For Shmuel to be his age and be in a death camp wouldn’t happen because, when young kids come to concentrations camps, the soldiers immediately gas them because they are too young to work. Bruno also thought that Shmuel was lucky to get to wear “striped pajamas” all day, but the soldiers actually take the Jews` clothes when they get to the camp and give them that uniform to identify them easily. Although there were some faulty points in this book, “Out-With” was an actual concentration camp. This camp was in Auschwitz, Poland and is where many Jews lost their lives. It was also presented in the book that this was the time Adolf Hitler was in power and in charge of the whole holocaust. In the book Bruno calls him the “Fury,” mispronouncing Furer. Once again, based in my research, the concept of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas was historically accurate.
Bruno's Diary Entry
Since I am not a little boy, this is a journal not a diary! But anyway, today I finally met a friend! His name is Shmuel and we were born on the same day. We have a lot in common too. When I was doing some exploring along the wire fence, I saw something so I decided to walk a little further to find Shmuel sitting on the ground. I went up to him and we began to talk about the little things but then it was getting dark so I had to go home. I told him I would come back every day at that same time so we could talk. I'm very excited because I don't have any friends at this horrible new house so now I have someone to talk to. I'll tell you more about him tomorrow after I go see him again!
Short Informative Piece
“The Fury has something he wants to discuss with me, I just got a phone call this afternoon. The only time he can make is Thursday and he’s invited himself to dinner.”
The Fury or Adolf Hitler was the chancellor of Germany at the time. He was also the central figure of the holocaust and Fathers boss. He was the leader of the Nazi party too. To me it seems as if it was his way or the highway. Hitler was a very controlling man and was never told no when he was in power. He started a Nazi Youth Program to begin brainwashing the young of his ways and how he believed everybody should act and everything they should believe in. He had big plans for Father and the concentration camps. I would suspect his hatred of Jews’ came from life experiences and events they were a part of that he felt strongly about.
Auschwitz Concentration Camp. Digital image. Pinterest, n.d. Web. <https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/6f/35/97/6f3597e67bea9c9350e7240abb0e6baf.jpg>.
Pragmatism. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. <https://oneway2day.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/holocaust-survivors.jpg>.
Vashem, Vad. Holocaust History. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://www.yadvashem.org/yv/en/exhibitions/ringelbum/images/letters/01.jpg>.