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The Boy in The Striped Pajamas: Comparison of The Book and The Movie

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Throughout society, Individuals are known to be different, and similar to one another. In John Boyne’s novel, The Boy In The Striped Pajamas, and Mark Herman’s film version, characters are shown to be different, which results in more interesting perspectives. Bruno is an innocent character who does not understand what is occuring around him. Bruno’s Mother is more of a bold character due to her actions. Shmuel take a while to trust Bruno, which leaves a gap in between their friendship. Although these characters are unique, their differences portrayed make the novel and movie more interesting, as depicted by Bruno, Bruno’s Mother, and Shmuel.

To begin with, Bruno is the central character of the novel. He is the nine year-old protagonist of the novel. He has to leave his school, and friends in Berlin, to move to their new house in Auschwitz, because of his father’s promotion. He loves to explore, and has other interests too like art, and books. In the novel, he is shown to be more innocent, and clueless. He shows this through the way he pronounces words. “Out-With? What is an Out-With?”. The name of the place Bruno lives at is called Auschwitz, but Bruno calls it “Out-With” instead. He is also shown to be clueless when Shmuel tells him that he is a prisoner. He tells him he can not leave this camp, and has to do whatever the soldiers tell him to do. Bruno stays confused as no soldiers tell him what to do, and since he is not imprisoned behind any wired fences. In the movie, it does not show this side of Bruno. It does not show any scenes of him saying “Out-With” or even mispronouncing words at all. Also, there were scenes in the movie in which Bruno would not have seen in the novel. During the family dinner, Pavel, a servant in striped pajamas, was pouring drinks. His hand accidently slipped, and he had spilt wine on Lieutenant Kotler’s lap, in the novel. He was then beaten in front of everyone during that time. In the movie, he spilt the wine on the table, and was grabbed by Lieutenant Kotler, who took him to the kitchen, and had beaten him to his death. Instead of witnessing Pavel get beaten in front of his family, Bruno had not scene him get beat, but he could hear the sound of him getting beat in the movie.

In addition, Bruno’s mother is a key character. She deeply loves, and cares for her son Bruno, and her daughter Gretel. She gets furious when her children complain, and tend to fight a lot. She completely ignores Bruno whenever he brings up topics related to the camp, and instead talks about Bruno. She is the one who convinces Bruno’s father to move back to their house in Berlin, from Auschwitz. In the novel, the story is explained through Bruno’s perspective, as he is the narrator of the novel. It does not mention much about how others feel throughout the novel, but instead how Bruno does, and what he does in those situations. This is displayed in the ending of the novel, when Bruno says, “Nothing like that could ever happen again. Not in this day, and age.” It is not like that in the movie, as we get to know more of characters like Bruno’s Mother, and their feelings throughout the movie. She is more aware of the situation around her, and tries getting more evidence from Lieutenant Kotler. She would meet with him early in the morning, and late at night, the times when Bruno’s father was asleep. Bruno’s father eventually picked up on what was happening, and had sent Lieutenant Kotler to another place to be. By then, Bruno’s Mother had a solid idea of what was really happening, and had several arguments with him to quit his job, and move back to Berlin. Although he could not quit his job because it would risk him in being killed, he was able to send his family back to Berlin.

Shmuel is one of the strong figures in the novel, and the movie. He is a nine year-old Jewish boy who is born in Poland, and grew up in Germany. He is forced out from his family, and kept as a slave in the concentration camp in Auschwitz. He is described as a very skinny, and thin boy. He is very similar to Bruno as they are both born on April fifteenth, nineteen thirty-four, and they were both forced to leave their homes to live in Auschwitz. In the novel, Shmuel does not quite trust Bruno. Both boys are young, but Shmuel understands the situation better. He knows Bruno is a german, and his father is a Nazi commandant. He knows they are not supposed to be friends, or even be talking, since it could lead to consequences for Shmuel. “We are not meant to be friends. We are meant to be enemies.” At first, he thinks Bruno could be using him, but slowly builds upon his trust. He does this when Bruno brings him food repeatedly everyday. This is Shmuel’s way of noticing that Bruno is trustable since he barely gets any food, and is starved most of the time. On the other hand, the movie speeds up this process of trust. Once Bruno, and Shmuel first meet, they bond instantly.

They continue to talk and bond everyday from then. In one scene in the movie, Shmuel is taken to Bruno’s house to help clean the glasses for a party. Bruno recognizes Shmuel, and both boys jump in joy. Bruno offers Shmuel food, which he shoves in his mouth. Lieutenant Kotler, one of Bruno’s father’s soldiers rushes in, and starts yelling at Shmuel. Shmuel explains how Bruno gave it to him, and that they are both friends. Lieutenant Kotler looks at Bruno confused, and continues to yell at Bruno too. Bruno tells him that Shmuel is lying, and that he does not even know who he is. Shmuel ends up getting brutally beaten. Even though this happens, he still forgives Bruno for what he did, furthermore, proving his trust in Bruno.

To conclude, although these characters are unique, their differences portrayed make the novel and movie more interesting, as depicted by Bruno, Bruno’s Mother, and Shmuel. Bruno is an innocent person who does not understand what is going on around him. The Mother of Bruno is more of an audacious character because of her actions. Shmuel takes some time to trust Bruno, which leaves a gap in between their friendship. It is always great to be unique. 

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The Boy In The Striped Pajamas: Comparison Of The Book And The Movie. (2021, August 06). GradesFixer. Retrieved September 30, 2022, from
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