Monday, January 11, 2010
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
This book is from the point of view of a nine year old little boy who happens to be the son of a Nazi Commandant. They move from their house and life in Berlin to live in a place he knows as "Out-with". He's incredibly bored to begin with and can't understand the purpose of the large fenced area he can see outside his bedroom where all are men or boys and wearing the same striped pajamas. It's so interesting to see, from what a child's point of view would be, the things that really did happen. One day, he ends up walking along the fence and finds a boy who soon becomes his best friend. Everyday they meet and talk but are always seperated by the fence. They compare their lives and the things they like and don't like and soon find they actually have a lot in common when it comes to not liking where they live and things that go on in their lives. Well, one day the german boy's mother decides she's had enough of the place and wants to go back home to Berlin. So, as a final goodbye, they german boy dresses in some striped pajamas his friend acquired for him and crawls under the fence to have "an exploration" and some time to play with his friend whom he will greatly miss. After over an hour of exploring, the german boy (who's name is Bruno, by the way) decides he better be getting back home. At that moment, soldiers start rounding up hundreds of people in the area they're standing in and marching them. Bruno doesn't like this but is trapped in the middle of this crowd. They are then marched into a building where it is so crammed no one can hardly move. He tells his friend (who's name is Shmuel) that he's his best friend for life, and holds his hand, not knowing what's about to happen next. The story ends with one more chapter saying Bruno was never heard from again.
Having read many books on this subject before, it's sad to realize what happened to him, how he was marched into a gas chamber and, of course, the rest is history. Bruno never knows what was going on in the camp, or that it was even a camp for prisoners. He's envious of Shmuel because, from his point of view, he has lots of friends to play with, where he has none. He sees and dislikes the soldiers that come in and out of his house. He definitely doesn't like being in the camp once he's there, and even feels fear seeing the things he sees there. He doesn't understand that "the Fury" who came to dinner and gave his father this important job at "Out-with" is Hitler, nor does he know why his mother doesn't like him or his grandmother, for that matter. The innocence of a child is greatly portrayed in this touching story, and it opened my eyes to yet another point of view of this horrific time in history.
Reading this, I'd like to find a book from a Nazi's point of view, or even a german's point of view who went along with all of this to avoid death themselves.
I can't tell you why I'm so fascinated with this, but I am just the same. This book was definitely a good one, and, even though it's fiction, still gives an accurate account of what happened to so many people. I love that it was from the view of a child, of innocence. It was written well and reads quickly. If you're interested in the Holocaust, this is definitely one I'd add to your mind's library.
For a different review and perspective, click the link above or here.