The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas

833 words - 4 pages

The Boy in the Striped PyjamasBruno is a nine-year-old from Berlin who has three best Friends For Life, an elder sister who is a Hopeless Case, and an ambition to be an Explorer. One day in 1943 someone called The Fury decides that Bruno's soldier father is to be posted, together with the whole family, to somewhere called Out-With, which is far away from Berlin, and quite possibly not in Germany at all. The new house is bleak and shabby, and from one side of it you can see a high-wired compound inhabited by sad-looking people in striped pyjamas.The great strength of Bruno's narrative is the way it is mired in the parochial preoccupations of a nine-year-old. While he is vaguely interested in ...view middle of the document...

Over the next few months the two children swap life stories through the mesh fence. Schmuel explains how he and his family have been transported here from a ghetto in Poland. Bruno counters with stories of the niceness of his life in Berlin and the stray, worried thought that next time he should probably bring his new friend some food. (He tries, but since being an Explorer is such hungry work, he has the unfortunate habit of polishing off the bread and chocolate before arriving at their rendezvous.)One of the great triumphs of this book is the way that John Boyne manages the shift in register from the intensely concrete inner world of his child narrator - a place where an elder sister's pigtails or the corner of a bedroom window are branded on your inner eye - to something that borders on fable. It turns out, for instance, that both Bruno and Schmuel were born on the same day, at a stroke turning them into narrative doubles and psychic twins. And then there is the oddness of Auschwitz security being so lax that a child prisoner could make a weekly date with the commandant's son without anyone...

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