The boy in the striped pyjamas essay questions

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The very person in whom Bruno has faith is the one who is bringing about the deaths of so many, his own son included. The room they arrive in "felt completely airtight" , something that is comforting to Bruno because he has been feeling wet and cold outdoors during the march. In fact, the room is airtight because it is a gas chamber. The reader has all doubt removed when the door to the chamber is slammed shut and the people in it gasp loudly.

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Bruno assumes "it had something to do with keeping the rain out and stopping people from catching colds" When the boys die, they are holding hands, and the narrator doesn't specify whether they ever realize what is happening. Why might Boyne have chosen to use a limited third-person narrator in the telling of this tragic story? The limited narrator presents a childlike perception; Bruno thinks about things concretely and tries to make sense of rules and then apply them to all situations.

The reader is encouraged to take on this child-like point of view through the use of capitalization and the misnaming of specific people and places. Bruno refers to his father's boss as "the Fury"; the reader must extrapolate that this is actually "the Furor," or Adolf Hitler. Because of the limits of the narrator, the reader is able to approach the horrors of the Holocaust as if he or she has no prior knowledge - much like Bruno.

The reader is required to put together details Bruno notices in order to make sense of the larger issues at play. How does Boyne bring the past into the present to create a sense of timelessness around the Holocaust? The name "Out-With" is clearly a misunderstanding of the name "Auschwitz," but by refusing to name the concentration camp, Boyne avoids specificity to a certain extent.

Bruno doesn't understand the derogatory term that Lieutenant Kotler calls Pavel and, later, Shmuel. By not specifically naming the word, Boyne suggests the universality of this interaction. Lieutenant Kotler could be any soldier during any war time, shouting a derogatory term to dehumanize a victim of any genocide.

This provides the fable with a sense of timelessness, extending beyond the specific situation at Auschwitz. In the last chapters, Boyne issues a veiled call to action to the reader, who could be living during a time of war or genocide. The most obvious instance is in the ironic tone on the final page of the story, after a devastated Father has been taken away from Out-With: "Of course all this happened a long time ago and nothing like that could ever happen again. Not in this day and age" Boyne means for the reader to consider just the opposite: there are genocides occurring in this day and age, all over the world, and the reader is likely employing various coping strategies to ignore or dismiss them.

Discuss how the character of Gretel demonstrates the Nazi's indoctrination of children. When Gretel is first introduced in Chapter Three, she is clearly a child, though a few years older than Bruno. She spends most of her time arranging her dolls and has brought the entire collection from Berlin with her. Significantly, she is the one who tells Bruno that the name of their new home is "Out-With. A teenager. Just like you'" Her words to Lieutenant Kotler foreshadow her mental shift as she grows out of childhood.

The Boy In The Striped Pajamas -- Digital Essay

Eventually, Gretel replaces her collection of dolls with maps of Europe given to her by Father, which she updates using the newspapers each day as she reads about developments in the war. Her transition out of childhood naivete is represented clearly in her correction of Bruno's usage of "Out-With" in place of "Auschwitz. Her understanding of the situation is still simplistic and lacks understanding: she has accepted what her Father and Herr Liszt have taught her without much critical thinking. One of the ways the Nazis defended their abhorrent actions against Jews was by arguing that the Aryan race was naturally "superior" to others.


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How does Boyne counter that claim? Boyne introduces the theme of the natural world versus the unnaturalness of Auschwitz and the Holocaust in general. Instead of answering Bruno's question about whether she likes it at Out-With, Maria describes how much she loved the garden at the house in Berlin. Bruno takes this as an indirect answer to his question, since it is in such stark contrast to the atmosphere at Auschwitz.

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The theme of the Holocaust being unnatural arises again in Chapter Eleven, when Mother protests the move to Out-With by saying, " The Nazis used the argument that the Aryan race was "naturally" superior to all others, using the idea of natural dominance as justification in exterminating the Jewish population. But Boyne turns this assumption on its head, pointing out throughout the story just how unnatural the atmosphere and situation at Out-With really is. In the final pages of the story, Father realizes that Bruno has gone to the other side of the fence and must have been killed in a gas chamber.


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  8. When the atrocities that he has been routinely committing against other people's children happen to his own child, he has a different perspective on the situation. Until that point, he has been convincing himself that the Jews are not real people. He assures Bruno that the Jews on the other side of the fence are "not people at all" - this is how he justifies to himself the systematic killing of them at Auschwitz Maria's description of how kind Father has been to her serves as a commentary on the mental and emotional justification for Nazi soldiers generally, who might do kind deeds and appear to be wonderful people in other parts of their lives, yet also are responsible for the extermination of Jews.

    How does Boyne use specific actions to represent the larger idea of complacency with regard to the Holocaust?

    The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas Essay Topics & Writing Assignments

    Bruno's betrayal of Shmuel in front of Lieutenant Kotler is representative of the many people who betrayed their Jewish neighbors and friends during the Holocaust in similar ways, simply by being complacent. By distancing himself from Shmuel because he is afraid of the consequences of associating with the boy, Bruno contributes to Shmuel's punishment for a crime he did not commit: stealing food.

    The way Bruno relates to his actions immediately following the event reflects a personal disconnect: "[he] wondered how a boy who thought he was a good person really could act in such a cowardly way toward a friend" He feels ashamed of himself, but does not take action to right the wrong. When Shmuel finally returns to meet him at the fence, his face covered in bruises, Bruno apologizes.

    In a traditional fable, characters are usually one-sided. How might Bruno and Gretel be considered one-dimensional? Why do you think she is not a member, especially since her father is a high-ranking officer in Hitler's army? What is it about the house at Out-With that makes Bruno feel "cold and unsafe"?

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    How is this feeling perpetuated as he encounters people like Pavel, Maria, Lt. Kotler, and Shmuel? Describe his reaction when he first sees the people in the striped pajamas. What does Gretel mean when she says, "Something about the way [Bruno] was watching made her feel suddenly nervous"? Bruno asks his father about the people outside their house at Auschwitz. His father answers, "They're not people at all Bruno. How does his father's statement make Bruno more curious about Out-With? Explain what Bruno's mother means when she says, "We don't have the luxury of thinking.

    Debate whether she is unhappy being away from Berlin, or whether she is angry about her husband's position. How does Bruno's grandmother react to her son's military role? When Bruno and his family board the train for Auschwitz, he notices an over-crowded train headed in the same direction. How does he later make the connection between Shmuel and that train? How are both trains symbolic of each boy's final journey? Bruno issues a protest about leaving Berlin. His father responds, "Do you think that I would have made such a success of my life if I hadn't learned when to argue and when to keep my mouth shut and follow orders?

    A pun is most often seen as humorous.