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Impression of The Novel 'The Boy in The Striped Pajamas'

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One important theme in “The Boy In The Striped Pajamas” is friendship. In the novel, the main character Bruno, meets Shumel when he is exploring along a fence. Even though the fence separates the boys, they start meeting daily and soon become friends. Bruno’s family tells him to stay away from the fence, but he continues to meet up with Shmuel and bring him food whenever he can. Even though the fence separates them, the boys’ friendship grows as they get to know each other, learning about each other’s lifestyles and their religions, and continues until the end.

Another theme that occurs in the novel is childhood innocence. In the story, the horrific truth about why Bruno’s family moved to Out-With, is kept from him. Bruno has no idea what is happening beyond the fence or, what exactly his father’s job is. This proposes a main difference between Shmuel and Bruno, which is their childhood innocence. Shmuel has lost his childhood innocence when he experienced the soldiers wrath first-hand, where as Bruno has no idea what really happens beyond the fence.

One last theme in this novel is the idea of judging a book by it’s cover. Bruno’s father and his fellow soldiers assume all Jewish people are bad and cruel. They don’t consider the fact that they are human, have lives and family, just like anyone else. Bruno’s father has an idea that all Jewish people are the same and all of them should be punished. These assumptions carry the book, and history, into a very dark time period.

The novel “The Boy In The Striped Pajamas” by John Boyne, is historical fiction and is set in 1943 during World War Ⅱ, at a death camp in Poland. Nine-year old Bruno and his family move from a wealthy five-story house in Berlin to a “basic” three-story house called Out-With. When Bruno and his family arrive at his new home, he notices that there is a large fence a few miles away, surrounding people all wearing the same striped pajamas. After several weeks of boredom, Bruno decides to go exploring, something he used to do all the time in Berlin. He sets off on an adventure walking along the fence, despite his family’s opinion about what is beyond it. His dad has been very secretive about why they had to move immediately, and only says it is for work. After walking for a couple hours, Bruno finds a boy sitting on the other side of the fence. This boy is nine-year old Shumel. Bruno was very excited that he has found someone to play with, but Shumel is nervous about meeting up with him for he knows what will happen if the soldiers find out. Bruno and Shumel continue to meet up for several months, Bruno bringing Shumel food whenever he can, and Shumel becoming someone Bruno can talk to. Inside his house, Bruno discovers that the soldiers working at the camp are nasty, mean men and treat no one except father, with respect. Bruno’s mother sees it too and decides that the house is not somewhere children should be. When Bruno’s mother declares that she and his sister Gretal, and Bruno are moving back to Berlin, Bruno is hesitant to tell Shumel because he knows they will have to say goodbye. When he does, Shumel is devastated because on top of never seeing Bruno again, his own father is missing. The two boys set off on one last mission together to find Shumel’s father. On Shumel’s side of the fence. Bruno finally understands why his father was so secretive about the camp and what goes on beyond the fence because it is truly horrible. When the boys are looking for Shumel’s father, they become entangled with a group of inmates who are being marched into a cement building. The boys are never seen again.

The novel study question I chose is question seven: compare (similarities and differences) this story to a movie or t.v. show that you have seen. It may be the movie of the novel if it has one. I compared the novel to it’s movie. The Boy In The Striped Pajamas movie, came out in 2008, two years after the book was released. The plot, setting and characters of the book are the same as the movie but there are many small differences. To start off, one of the main differences I found was that Bruno and Shumel are nine in the book, and they are eight in the movie. In the novel the author also said that Bruno and Shumel had the same birthday, and this was one main similarity between them, but the movie left that out. The novel also created a strong relationship between Maria, the maid, and Bruno. I think that this was an important relationship because Maria gave Bruno some very small signs and hints of what Bruno’s father was doing. But sadly, the movie left out the important components of this relationship. Maria is only Bruno’s maid in the movie, and nothing more. One other big difference that stood out to me is Gretal. In the novel, Gretal loves her dolls and is constantly rearranging them and talking to them. But around the time Lieutenant Kotler leaves Out-With, she decided that she was too old for dolls and threw them away in four large bags. After she did this, she took up the hobby of maps and reading the newspaper. In the movie though, if you look closely, there are always dolls in her room, and she was never particularly obsessed with them. She still takes up the hobby of maps and news though. The character of Lieutenant Kotler is the same in both the book and the movie. In both, he is an obnoxious jerk. He violently abuses Pavel (the servant who peels their vegetables), leading to his death in both stories and he also constantly teases Bruno, as well as committing other horrific acts. Another similarity is the way Bruno and Shumel die. In both movie and book, they are marched into the gas chamber and told to undress and leave everything outside the room. During this tragedy Bruno and Shumel are holding hands, (the first time they have touched each other in the movie, but not the book) and die that way. In my opinion, I think that the novel and book are equally good. I say this because I think that the book had me more tied to it, not wanting to put the book down, but the movie had me more emotional, due to the ending and watching Bruno and Shumel go. Those are my comparisons to the book and movie.

“The Boy In The Striped Pajamas” was a very powerful book. It taught me a new perspective of the world and I would definitely recommend it to mature readers.The subject is very deep and it hits you in the heart. Bruno and Shumel go through many ups and downs in the novel that requires a mature mindset. I think that I might read historical fiction again, but it depends on the time period it’s based on. I would read another historical fiction about the Holocaust because it is interesting and it showed me a different perspective on World War II. The novels I have previously read about the Holocaust are from the perspectives of people in the concentration camps, so it was interesting to see something a little diffrent.

I think that John Boyne did an incredible job in writing this novel in such a unique way that you feel emotional for all characters from Bruno to Lieutenant Kotler. I would rate this book a seven out of ten. I say this because I found that the beginning was a bit slow and the author could’ve described some things in more detail, such as Bruno’s friends and Grandmother’s funeral, but the climax of the novel was amazing and I couldn’t put down the book. 

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Impression of the Novel ‘The Boy in The Striped Pajamas’. (2022, May 24). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 29, 2022, from
“Impression of the Novel ‘The Boy in The Striped Pajamas’.” GradesFixer, 24 May 2022,
Impression of the Novel ‘The Boy in The Striped Pajamas’. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 29 Jun. 2022].
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