The daughter is the foil, buying into anything, the Father is the committed soldier, knowing full well what happens, and the boy is the ignorant and inquisitive one, not ready to buy into any one point just yet. Even Allied bombers flying overhead did not know what was going on.
It provides an account of a dreadful episode short on actual horror but packed with overtones that remain in the imagination. Plainly and sometimes archly written, it stays just ahead of its readers before delivering its killer punch in the final pages. Ed Wright, writing in The Age of Melbourne, calls the novel "a touching tale of an odd friendship between two boys in horrendous circumstances and a reminder of man's capacity for inhumanity".
He felt that "Bruno's friendship with Shmuel is rendered with neat awareness of the paradoxes between children's naïve egocentricity, their innate concept of fairness, familial loyalty and obliviousness to the social conventions of discrimination". Scott , writing in The New York Times , questioned the author and publisher's choice to intentionally keep the Holocaust setting of the book vague in both the dust jacket summary and the early portion of the novel, writing: To recreate those experiences faithfully might require undoing some of the readers' preconceptions".
However Scott felt this undermined the work, saying: There is something awkward about the way Boyne manages to disguise, and then to disclose, the historical context". Scott concludes that "[T]o mold the Holocaust into an allegory, as Boyne does here with perfectly benign intent, is to step away from its reality". Rabbi Benjamin Blech offered a historical criticism, contending that the premise of the book and subsequent film — that there could be a child of Shmuel's age in Auschwitz — was impossible, writing of the book: Blech acknowledges the objection that a " fable " need not be factually accurate; he counters that the book trivializes the conditions in and around the death camps and perpetuates the "myth that those [ Students who read it, he warns, may believe the camps "weren't that bad" if a boy could conduct a clandestine friendship with a Jewish captive of the same age, unaware of "the constant presence of death".
Holocaust scholar Henry Gonashk rebuts Blech's historical contention in his book Hollywood and the Holocaust , writing that "[T]he rabbi found implausible Shmuel's very existence in the camp", but stating that "Blech is factually incorrect.
In fact, there were male though apparently not female children at Auschwitz. In , for example, according to the Nazis' meticulous records, there were male children at the camp, ranging in age from one month to fourteen years old. Some of the boys were employed by the Nazis as camp messengers, while others were simply kept around as mascots and curiosities. Probably some of these children were sexually abused by the guards.
Of course, thousands of other children at Auschwitz including all the girls who arrived at the camp were gassed". From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. There were children in the concentration camps, and they were kept for the same reason children were hired in factories during the Industrial Revolution. Their small hands and bodies could come in handy for certain jobs.
Overall, the story was extremely moving, and it made me pity those who were murdered, as well as become disgusted with those who did nothing to help. Isn't that what a story on a terrible time in history is supposed to do? I couldn't disagree more with your opinion on the story. Anonymous , September 23, I agree with Mari.
Even though it is a work of fiction, I came away with a heighten sense of what the halocaust was and how it affected so many innocent lives. I didn't take it to be negative about the halocaust at all. I found the main point to be that G-d payed the commandant of that camp back with a high price for his lies and deception and murder.
What higher price could be paid than losing his own child in the very way he took innocent lives? I am deeply disturbed by the above criticism of this story. I think that even if it isn't completely accurate in every way, it is poignant and deeply moving. I have only seen the movie and I am sure there is much more detail in the book, so that inaccuracies may be more glaring. But many Germans turned a blind eye from the truth, even if they knew it on a deeper level, and I am sure that would include children, especially inquisitive children like Bruno.
The whole event was incomprehensible, probably for many children. And for children, fantasy is a common escape.
They see things the way they want to under horrible circumstances. I don't necessarily see the boy Schmuey as wandering around a camp. He was clearly hiding. There were children clever enough to hide for weeks in barracks they didn't belong in. I just think the story, or at least the movie, and the focus on the boys' relationship, what they learn from one another, and what happens to them certainly puts forth the essence of the holocaust. I found your article whilst searching for teaching resources.
I teach boys with emotional and behavioural problems. I am not a Jew but I have an 'outsider's' understanding of the holocaust and, to some extent, I understand your friend's horror at what must seem like a severe minimising of the horror. However, can I just add this. I am an English teacher. When I teach this book, we analyse feelings, not history. The boys I teach are 'tough', they are from gangs. They NEED to know what persecution 'feels' like, and not in a historical way.
I was upset when I read your friend was in tears. PLease, if you can, tell him this. We are not allowed to show the real horror to children. They will learn it when they are older. However, books like this can still touch them and make them think. The holocaust is not made into a 'fairy tale'. I have them researching images and historical fact too, to a 'safe' extent. We may have to 'gift-wrap' this horrific experience of history but when you see one of these gang-members wipe away a tear, or make an excuse to leave the room, it feels good to know we have started a process of instilling a humanity that is fast-leaving our youth of today.
I hope this doesn't offend. You stated that their were no children in Auschwitz???? How is it I have read accounts numerous accounts of smaller children there?? Could you please tell me what you meant by this. I have been reading about the holocaust and WW2 for years and have read many accounts?? Have I missed something??? I was born in a DP camp after the war.
Both my parents were survivors. Most Germans knew that the Jews had been taken away somewhere, and may have heard of the shootings and camps, but very few knew the horrors of what was going. Even Allied bombers flying overhead did not know what was going on. Even other Jews refused to believe the eyewitness accounts of the few escapees! So to try to blame all Germans is totally ridiculous and unfair. As for the movie, it was heartbreaking, but not impossible to believe.
I did not read the book, but only saw the movie, and the ending is simply such, there are no words for it. I cannot speak for the book. Seems like Hollywoods version of the Holocaust. I lost my grandfather to a camp. Germans knew what was going on. Either to scared or just didnt care. Although I haven't read the book I have just seen the movie and was left feeling distraught and grieving for 2 innocent boys , but for all those who were persecuted so monstrously during the Holocaust. Despite being a work of fiction it still has the power to create strong feelings about these atrocities.
I just watched the film of this book and found it a terrible distorted mess. I couldn't believe that a high ranking Nazi wouldn't have completely indoctrinated his wife and children. I found the lie that they were ignorant of what was happening disturbing, as much as the other novel turned into an award winning film, "The Reader" which sought to absolve germans of resonsiblity for the holocaust by making an ignorant illiterate, Sudatan German a Camp guard.
Humans are capable of great evil as well as great good, denying that helps no one, and a sin of omission is just as great a sin as one of action.
As an author to write about the Holocaust is an awesome responsiblity and not one to be taken lightly, certainly not one to write in 2 days with no real and substantive research. This story is not intended as a factual account.
The real point, as I see it, is to show us, from the point of view of an innocent child, how preposterous the justifications were of the way they treated the jewish people during WWII. Bruno is completely confused by the vast difference between what he is being told and what he is seeing and experiencing himself. He beautifully illustrates how if you scratch the surface of hate and bigotry, the arguments used to support this don't make sense at all.
He can see that his jewish friend is not evil, he can see that the camp is not paradise and he cannot get his innocent mind around the incongruousness between what his father and his teacher are telling him and what he can see to be true. In my mind, this story has a very important message which is that in order to avoid a similar horror in the future, we must always question what we are being told and attempt to apply our own logic and experience rather than blindly following what someone else tells us is true.
If we do this, hopefully we can avoid being brainwashed into blindly following someone into a situation where we end up doing things that are completely abhorrent to our fellow human beings. The end of the story illustrates how any one of us, no matter who we are, in the blink of an eye, can end up as one of the persecuted which is something we should think about when we persecute others. While it may not be historically accurate, the themes and messages of the story are ones which I believe are as relevant today as in any other period in history.
We must understand that it is our responsibility to one another to never again allow ignorance, prejudice or blind faith to lead us to a situation where we treat other human beings in such a horrible fashion. I disagree with your comments concerning what an 8 not 9 year old knows or believes.
I remember clearly the innocence my mother forced on to me to protect me from secrets and truths that would become apparent to me as an adult. In a childs eyes, innocence and belief lies in their parents. I have german friends who were children at that time and it took many years in their small towns to understand fully the hush of parents talk. They heard the word jew and thought they looked different and were able to be easily seen. I think you are putting adults views onto a childs eye and accusing children of what adults were able to force children to believe.
And one last thing. This book is just another example of the side of effects of "Nazi Tourette's" in our culture. People appropriate holocaust narratives for their own current political agendas and in doing so, diminish the sense of atrocity each time they do it.
They convince themselves that they are taking a stance and condemning the holocaust when they do this appropriating, but condemning the holocaust from the safety of two generations removed and you're preaching the choir isn't really a great moral accomplishment, especially when you're just doing it to score political points or sell a few books.
It's gross when Glenn Beck does it. It's just as gross when John Boyne does it. This book was so bad, it made me really angry when I read it. First of all, there are already books in existence that seek to explain the holocaust to children and they are better done than this one. I can even recall reading a children's book years before this book came out about a little German girl who was sneaking food to a child in a camp, so this isn't an original plot. Bruno is a stupid character, the puns are stupid, and the plot where someone is able to just crawl under a fence into a death camp but the prisoners are too stupid to crawl out is ridiculous.
However, it isn't just the historical fabrication that I object to. I understand that the author was trying to do something different with this book, but I think he failed in a big way. Even being a liberal and knowing that I probably agree with a lot of his politics, the agenda of this book really gets up my nose.
The implication of this novel is that bad things happen just because people don't know they're happening, which is frankly, a load of over-simplified BS. This novel is like Boyne's own self-righteous belief that knowing about current events is the same thing as preventing atrocities.
Writing this was a form of slacktivism. He thinks he's changing the world by barfing out a badly-written book like this, but he's really just taking his liberalness and beating those who simply don't know what's going on in the world over the head with it. Those who simply don't know what's going on now as during the holocaust are in the minority, probably poor and uneducated and this book is probably over their heads.
And one has to wonder if writing a book counts as "doing something. It doesnt exaplian what actaully happebned and really, we humans only call it sad because they died in the end, it happened to so many other jewish people, its unrealistic and i know alot of people that think the book is based on a true story, its false information and i dont know why it got the awards it did.
I can understand what you mean about the historical innaccuries of the novel but the novel isnt meant to be a historical recount of what Aushwitz was like.
As you clearly pointed out as well the novel is a fable it is not intended for students to be learning about as an accurate historical representation of the Holocaust. That's not the novels fault and you shouldn't ridicule it for that. The novels historical accuracy shouldnt be ridiculed as John Boyne wrote the book in two days so he was obviously focussed on a story rather than historical facts.
Please try to remember the themes in the book are far more important than how the book portrays the Holocaust. Anonymous , June 2, Many teachers use it as content and proclaim it as true. They also say that it shows that Germans were as much victims as Jews. It should be banned from all public schools. I had planned to watch the dvd of this film to learn, but this review has thankfully alerted me that I should better spend my efforts on other sources like Schindler's List.
This article is also well-meaning but also inaccurate. There were Jewish children at Auschwitz. My mother-in-law was taken there for several months near the end of the war. Apparently, by that time, they had shut down the gas chambers.
She, of course, had a horrific experience, but she was there as a small child--and survived. Anonymous' Wife , May 21, 4: And she remembers working in Auschwitz - she remembers helping to push those large wheelbarrows filled with bodies!!
And she remembers doing some work with bricks. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is a questionable book because it makes art out of evil. BUT the ending is powerful - how Bruno's father's ambition destroyed not only six million strangers, but also his own family. If one can read between the lines, here is a warning about the danger of fanaticism which can apply to all groups everywhere. The question is, should the Holocaust, which was specifically the Nazis against the Jews, be made into a paradigm which shows the dangers of fanaticism for all people?
I saw the movie after being told about the amazing "true story" of the Holocaust. People had told me that the ending was shocking and horrifying and really made you think. When I watched the film, I could instantly recognize that it was fiction. The setting was only vaguely reminiscent of concentration camps I have visited. The whole movie was nothing but a story, and one too loosely based on reality to be useful or respectful.
I appreciate this article particularly for pointing out why fiction of this nature is dangerous and irresponsible. This story, or fable, as has been alluded to, contains, like most literature of sismic social gravity, a message of poignancy and humanity which arguably transcends arguments of mere veracity concerning whether a fence was breachable or nay, because of now to attested electrification. Perhaps the Rabbi may have been precocious and worldly wise, as I as a child with Irish republican leanings at a similar age.
To assume that a child should understand the magnitude and horror of such an industrialised slaughter, unprecedented in human history as it was, is without doubt to expect too much of youth. Complicity as was undoubted among many who looked the other way,- two and a half million Germans died in opposition to Hitler and the Nazis between and I ask the Rabbi as a humanist to be wary of the perpetual blame game. As an Irish Republican Socialist I damn the economic and military holocaust Ireland has suffered over many centuries.
I would have willingly joined the British army however to fight the worser evil of Nazism. Dont get lost in tribalism I implore you. Save one save the world. Literature can convey truth in unexpected ways as my coming play The Prisoner, attempts to convey To semi plagarise a quote from Jurrasic Park,-Love finds a way I am 29 years old. I live in Holland and have had tons of history lessons on the Holocaust. I have visited camp Westerbork deportation camp and my Grandfather was a part of the Dutch resistance.
Today, May 4th, the day where the Dutch keep 2 minutes silence in memory of those who have fallen during the war, I have just finished watching the movie ' The boy in the striped pajamas'. I have to say, it is one of the most impressive movies I have ever seen and reading this review on the book of which the movie is based upon I am overcome with utter surprise and disbelieve.
The only explanation I can give is that the person who wrote this review has completely misinterpreted the meaning of the author. Pointing out or suggesting that it is impossible to live next to a concentration camp without knowing what was going on, or that it was impossible to meet each day with a captive in an unseen corner or even that there were no young captives in these camps is pointless! You fail to understand that this is a story one sees through the eyes of an eight year old child.
Maybe one needs to have a reasonable amount of knowledge on the Holocaust to understand the intention of this story but even so, alongside the childish nativity of the boy the movie portraits the underlying dark truth brilliantly.
True, I can not yet speak for the book for I have only seen the movie. However the movie is based upon the book and therefore can only conclude the view of the author is the same as portrayed by the director. I agree with the argument that this book does in fact certainly mar certain facts regarding concentration camps and what was experienced due to them. However , I think that it is a text that should be read after one has been provided with accurate information and has learnt of real experiences that survivors of such a tragedy endured.
Also , While again I acknowledge that it is not an accurate portrayal of experiences, I believe that it would also be useful as an introductory text for much younger children to be able to understand the concept of that the Jewish community was persecuted , followed by a more in depth and accurate teaching of the tragedy.
The fence was, in fact, electrical, and they showed that it was early in the movie. I think you are right on in your commentary on the book. People forget how easily young people are convinced that fiction is in fact truth!
High school students reading this would definitely get the wrong idea. Thank you for sharing. It don't matter and middle school reads it to they would get the right idea from Anne Frank. Bena , July 3, 5: If we're going to tell stories to our children, they may as well be accurate. If we're going to tell stories to our children, they may as well be accurate, not this. There a plenty of Holocaust stories which are more accurate , age-appropriate for children and present a less confusing message than this one.
Whoever wrote about the book i believe is just a bit criticising to the meaning of the book and its aspects to a book thats a fictional text. John Boyne is extremely smart in which he conveys the book and the events and its not fair to go on and on about how this and that wasn't supposed to happen and little boys not capable to work would be gassed.
I have not read the book, but I saw the movie, and it had glaring errors: I thought that the book was wonderful. It gave small amounts of information, however indirect, about the holocaust and concentration camps. It was not supposed to be a detailed report about the horrors of the war.
You may not remember when you were eight or nine, but I am only 13 and I do remember. If people dont tell you things, you can be happily clueless and have no idea what is going on. And just by the way, Bruno's friends name was Shmuel, not Smuley.
His father, as camp commandant, probably came to the realisation of the consequences of his Nazi sympathies in the last chapter of the book when trying to understand what had happened to his son. While not said in as many works, it was hinted that he was led away after he possibly could have expressed his doubts about the policies of the evil Nazi regime.
When in my twenties I read the book "The Hiding Place" a non-fiction written by Corrie Ten Boom, a Righteous Gentile woman from Holland, who helped Jews and was sent along with her family to a concentration camp. Her book was written as if a Jew had written it, for she had experienced the same fate as a Jew, in detail of true accounts of what the concentration camp was really like, no sugarcoating it. Many adults have read "The boy in the stripe pajamas" even though in the children section, to get a perspective of what non Jews went through.
Just like I read Corrie Ten Boom's book. There is two sides to the story. There comes a time when you need to read what non Jews went through also during that time period. I related to her, even though she wasn't a Jew, and I wasn't even alive during the Holocaust.
I didn't fall in love with the character Bruno, like the author had intended his audience to do, so when he died in the end, it didn't have an emotional impact on me, like was intended. My focus went to Shmuel, having a friend to help him through his hour of death. He wasn't alone totally, since his father was not to be found. Bruno, who felt so bad that he was only thinking of himself and lied, gave an sincere apology to Shmuel, and wanted to make it up to him to help find Shmuel's father, took the place of his father's comfort.
My opinion, this movie is geared for adults. They have the background of previous Holocaust studies, to decipher between fact and fiction, that a young Jewish reader would not have.
If the non Jews find it to be a good read for their children, than it's their business, for to them it can be. I think for a Jewish child it may leave distortion of the Holocaust, leaving only the impression from a German boys side of the story, lacking the horrendous acts of cruelty that took place.
First impressions can be lasting. It wouldn't be an accurate one. Could a 8 yr old boy not know what was going on in the world? Yes, when I was 8 I didn't know the Vietnam War was going on, and that thousands of soldiers were dying because of it, and I also didn't know what my Dad did on his job. If I was 10 now, I wouldn't be able to relate to the key character of the story, a German boy named Bruno, and telling a story through his eyes, living in a Nazi home and close by a concentration camp.
I just wouldn't of been able to relate to him, non Jew, the main character of the book, like I did with Anne Frank. The focus is the main character, it's similar to Anne Frank's Diary, except this is a German boys Diary, and the book is titled fiction.
Because a Jewish Child, wouldn't be able to relate to the main character of the book, would the book be readable to a Jewish Child? From my own viewpoint, I wouldn't find it interesting as a Child, because I wouldn't be able to relate. I wasn't a bookworm as a child, so it really took an interesting book I could relate to, to sit down and read a book.
My opinion, this book would not be of interest in a Jewish Day School. To teach children, that their were children that was oblivious to what was going on and they were not taking part in the agenda of the Nazis, that can be a moral fact. Bruno who can represent many 8 yr old German children, who did not look at Jews as enemies but friends, and those German children grew up not like the society at large that they lived in, can also be a fact to be told.
Not all German parents of children were Nazi Jew haters. Many German parents gave through words and deed, helping the Jewish people.
You take a non Jew child, they could relate to this book, and speak to them, they didn't have anything to do with the holocaust.
Bruno and Shmuel would of grown up as friends, if they would of lived and the story continued. I have seen some movies about the Holocost. It gave real insight as to how it must have been.
I am always glad when I hear the phrase, "Never Again. This article is an ironic misunderstanding of the book and the film. They are not purporting to be a full history of the Holocaust but are an introduction to children of the nature of the Holocaust. The book is subtly, very cleverly written, designed to put you into the head of a nine-year-old boy who is not very interested in politica and who has been shielded by his parents from the unpleasentnesses of life in Nazi Germany.
The book makes no claims to be historical. The scene where the jewish doctor is beaten to death is left to the head of the reader. Knowing how my own little boy thinks, and how children get things wrong, the tension in this book between the errors of the boy's understanding and the errors of the adults attitudes is striking. I find Rabbi Blech's assertions disturbing. It is a kick-start to investigating reality. I think it does its job very well.
Here is one review: His article is knee-jerk rather than considered, and he needs to review the book and the reality of people's reactions to it. This book is a superb introduction to the topic.
It leads to Anne Frank's diary which I found very hard to read at the age of 9 and provokes more reading. I think it is you miss guiding others about the movie. I for one did not walk away feeling as though there was a simple "I didn't know " excuse for the the German soldiers or any one else. I felt disgust watching Bruno's father ,who was proid to know what was happening and watched as he dodged questions his little 8 yr old son had about smells and pajamas and everything else Bruno was curious about.
I thought it was a tragic movie that was definately not trying to portray the "i didn't know" factor ,but rather showing how everyone did know and also knew that it was wrong which is why they didn't d tell the 8 yr old son what was happening ultimately causing the death they're son.
The fence was actually shown to be electric in one scene of the film when Bruno throws a stone against it and it bounces back. Also I can only imagine the terror that every jew went through in this very dark and brutal period. But you have to remember that this book is told from a 9 year old boys point of view and not as an adult. And in order to educate the younger generation this story has to be told in this way to ensure that this Genocide of the Jewish people is never forgotten.
I believe that the Jewish people are the most treasured race of people and should be and always be proud of what they have achieved. PS I am a Catholic from Ireland.
I read this book in english and i watched the film, i had really strong feelings towards the book, and film, i felt like i wanted to cyr, everyone was ashamed of bruno and shmuels friendship, and this should not matter, i believe the moral of the fiilm and book is no matter what colkour race or beliefes youmay have, everyone should be treated the same.
I feel the need to disagree with your statement that there were no nine-year-old boys at Auschwitz; the Nazis gassed everyone not old enough to work. That is not true. Statistics show that this is not always the case: Hermann Langbein describes two accounts of small children who lived in Auschwitz: What's more, there have been survivor accounts written by children who lived in Auschwitz.
Anita Lobel, author of No Pretty Pictures: But I had never had a picture in my head of what a concentration camp might really be like. All I knew now was that what we had dreaded the most had finally happened. I was ten years old. My brother was eight. Anita and her younger brother, almost the same age as Shmuel is, had been protected by their Christian nanny for five years but were eventually caught and sent to Auschwitz.
They were miraculously spared the fate of the chimneys and were eventually saved by the Swedish Red Cross. It is true that over a million children were brutally murdered in the Holocaust and that young children in the camps were rare; however, there were exceptions, and these exceptions are proof that an eight-year-old boy such as Shmuel could, and did, exist. Please do your research before making blatant assumptions about the Holocaust.
Yes, this is a fictional novel. No, that does not make it any less real, nor any less powerful. I doubt any who defends this literary piece has ever had a personal encounter with a Holocaust survivor. I met one whose parents were both immediately gassed upon arrival at Auschwitz, he witnessed the SS throw a baby into the air and use it for target practice, witnessed children burned alive- thrown into the fire like wood as he describes, among the other horrors.
How hopeful he was that one of his seven bed mates would be dead in the morning so they could search his body for food. He saw people commit suicide by running into the electric fences, smelt their burning bodies, and contemplated doing it himself. Women tattooed with the words "Hitler's whores" across their faces and continually raped until killed. Yes, these are the disgusting realities of camps but if we let the facts become replaced by images of two happy boys meeting at a fence then we are spitting in the faces of these survivors.
I have heard many speak and they are terrified of people forgetting the truth because that is exactly how history repeats, when people forget. If you want to argue that this novel is still important then please ask one Holocaust survivor what they think about representations like this.
If anyone can find just 1 person who was actually there say that this will produce a positive effect on Holocaust memory then I will be surprised. If the author intended it as a general look at innocence then he should have used a different setting, place, and time- you do not use and distort other people's nightmares for profit.
The work was not meant to be an accurate representation of history, it was meant to teach a lesson; one that centers on the ability of humans to feel compassion for each other even in the darkest of times.
Anyone who has heard of the atrocities of the holocaust knows that there are not enough words to describe the horrors that Jewish people during that time experienced. The innocence of Bruno only adds to the horror of the things happening in the concentration camps. As for the fact that Shmuel could not possibly have had the time to stay at the fence and that he was too young to still be in a camp, the story is about the innocence of children, not the historical inaccuracies. The child goes through the war in the camp innocently, not being able to believe that humans could possibly treat each other that way seriously.
The case is the same with Bruno. He can simply not believe that things were as bad as they were, and as the story was told through his eyes, this perception of events is heartbreaking; as this perception leads to his death.
The way the story is told makes the holocaust stabs the heart, but maybe there is a glimmer of hope for humanity if people can come together in such bad times.
The story is ultimately being told as a child saw it, and a child cannot see the terrible reality. The film, which I have watched online, leaves me shaking with both sorrow from obvious causes and rage.
The film, with its many inaccuracies and sugar-coating concentraction camp life the ability of Shmuel and Bruno to meet over and over, the fact that Schmuel was allowed to simply sit by the wheelbarrow and not work life a slave is dangerous in that, by indoctrinating the unititiated with a Holocaust fantasy, the door is opened for the worst of these to mistakenly believe the Holocaust itself is a fantasy.
There's no need to make Holocaust films for children; a thorough education in Judaism provides this, and it's a mature and sensitive subject. We don't need this very "Grimm" fairy tale!
I am a school teacher and not Jewish myself. Still, I want to incorporate knowledge of the Holocaust into my lesson plans because I think it is important. I began reading the book with the idea that I might teach it to my class.
Upon closer inspection, however, I will not be doing so. I like the book as a piece of literature and appreciate the moral tale it tries to tell. Nonetheless, my students would likely walk away with some gross misconceptions that I just can't countenance. Particularly for elementary students, I feel that there are better choices.
Jerry Spinelli's Milkweed, for example, does a better job of realism though we don't know if the protagonist is actually Jewish or not.
As I read, I ask questions like, "Why hasn't anyone shot Shmuel for approaching the fence, are there no guards at fantasy Auschwitz?
They have a tendency not to look critically at the things placed in front of them even when you try to foster that skill. Thanks for the thought-provoking article! First, as a fable one cannot judge for any type of accuracy because as others have pointed it out, it is a moral tale, and what greater moral than the effects of propaganda. The film is also about realization. The Mother is fooled into thinking that nothing horrible is going on at the work camp, but finally gets it.
The daughter is the foil, buying into anything, the Father is the committed soldier, knowing full well what happens, and the boy is the ignorant and inquisitive one, not ready to buy into any one point just yet.
I think the end clearly communicates the horror as well as the ultimate tragedy that amid our personalities and worldviews we all breathe, bleed, and die in the same way. We clearly should learn that this applies today with our world. Doing what's right has nothing to do with being conservative or liberal.
I agree that 'The Boy in the Striped Pajamas' does not bring out the full detail of the holocaust but as it is in the view point of an German year old, the character would not have seen the horrors. It cannot be put into this film.
On another note, the "good people" that just watched are not watching because they want to. Rather they fear for their lives too if they were to try stop the events that occurred before their eyes.
If someone was committing a horrendous crime before you and many others were watching, laughing, and they had the power to end your life or the life of a beloved one if you stepped out of line, would you have the courage to speak? As the child of a Holocaust survivor, I agree that the movie distorts reality and I know it is impossible for anyone living near the camps not to have known the truth. Most survivors had nightmares for years my Mom died still having them.
There have been studies down that children in the inner city are impacted by the violence and deaths around them even if they didn't witness it directly. On the other hand, it is one of the few movies that my Granddaughter has watched several times and is still impacted by the boy's death each time.
Maybe the key is that we need to discuss the reality while allowing the movie to teach a valuable lesson. Second, it is fiction. Third, it says it's a fable on the second page! Also, that means you missed the entire point of the story. It is a story about friendship. It is a story about morals and irony. It also touches on how children were brain washed Bruno's sister , and emphasizes Bruno thinking for himself and empathizing for others- even though you say that's untrue.
I am pretty sure the author isn't pro-German or anti-Jew. I do not believe he glamorized the Jews' situations either. Another thing, this is in the children's section of a bookstore. It can be used as an introduction source or aid to the Holocaust education. Any teacher or parent using this as an only source is just irresponsible. So, maybe you are the one that should "get educated.
The Diary of a Young Girl. I just saw the movie and can't agree more with all of your comments. I am a married African American mother of two boys 11 and I will be sure they watch the movie but more over explain to them the symbols within and the overlying message of never let history repeat itself to no group, race, etc. It is sad how our history is so violent, the strong against the weak. It saddens me how we as humans can so quickly jump on the bandwagon to hurt others.
While the fiction of this story is not factually based, I think it opens a window to teach about the Holocaust and other atrocities that have been done to people in the past and how we must stand up for what is right. I also hope conversations about education and reaching beyond what your parents teach you to become a well-rounded adult. Sometimes as parents I think we want our kids to vote as we do, be the same religion, like the same music but that's where the character Lil Bruno - even at 9, was trying to search for his own truth.
While it's hard, I will encourage my sons to do the same, by reading, asking questions and being aware of the world and not just my small perspective. So I had to watch this movie in my portuguese class,and honestly i didnt like it because the end its just so sad. How is this concept important to any genocide and what causes Bruno to see things differently?
Genocides occur when society denies the humanity of a minority and decides to exterminate the minority. This conception of the Jews is never really adopted by Bruno. Incidents that cause Bruno to see things differently from his father and his society include his meeting with Pavel, the man who works as a servant in his home and who is wearing the Striped pajamas under his servant's clothing.
Pavel helps Bruno make a tire swing and when Bruno is injured, Pavel dresses the wound. Bruno learns that Pavel was a doctor before working as a servant. Later, Bruno meets Shmuel and is happy to have a friend his own age. Learning about them, Bruno does not see these two individuals as different, non-human, or inferior. Thus, the suggestion is made that knowing an individual can shift the attitude about a group that is held by society.
Gretel, Bruno's sister, is seen several times with her dolls and then one day Bruno finds the discarded dolls ominously piled into a dark corner of the cellar. What does this image tell the film's viewers about the changes the girl is experiencing?
Gretel is losing her innocence. She has developed a crush on the German soldier, Karl, who guards her home and washes the cars. She wants to impress him.
She accepts the anti-Semitic propaganda she reads with her tutor without question and fills the wall space of her room with Nazi posters. The image of the discarded dolls in the cellar creates a powerful symbol for her lost compassion.
His tongue loosened by alcohol, Karl reveals information about his father's exodus from Germany. This information threatens Karl, despite his clear loyalty to the Nazi party and his role in the household as the brutal disciplinarian of the camp inmates who serve the household.
What is revealed about Karl's cruelty in his brutal attack on Pavel, the servant who spills wine at the dinner table. Why does Karl beat Pavel so brutally? What is the irony in what happens to Karl in this story? Karl understands that he has talked too much and takes his fears out on the old man by beating him brutally as the family continues its meal in the next room.
In addition, Karl is trying to demonstrate his hatred of Jews and his loyalty to Nazi principles. However, Karl's fate is cast by his admission that he did not report his father to the authorities. Bruno's father then reports Karl and the young man is transferred to the Eastern front where he will likely be killed.
The irony in what happens to Karl is that he is trying to live up to the Nazi ideal, but it is those ideals that send him to his likely death. The beating of Pavel serves as a turning point for Bruno's mother who is increasingly opposed to her husband's work in the military.
What solution does her husband offer to help her cope with her disillusion and fear? Bruno's father decides to send his family to live with an aunt in Berlin.
He seems to think that being away from the situation will make his wife feel better. He is unwilling to accept her beliefs, as he was unwilling to accept his mother's beliefs. He chooses to offer a distraction rather than a solution to the problem. What is revealed in the characters of both Bruno and Shmuel in the episode in which Karl finds the two boys together in the family home and questions their actions?
When Karl demands to know where Shmuel got the food he is eating, Bruno is afraid and lies, thus betraying his friendship with Shmuel. Shmuel is beaten and sent back behind the barbed wire. When Bruno apologizes to Shmuel for his betrayal, he is readily forgiven.
This shows both the fear in which Bruno is living and his growing awareness of his father's complicity in the misery suffered by Pavel as well as Shmuel. It also shows the innocence of children in the ease with which they can forgive. It indicates the importance of forgiveness and loyalty in friendship, which can surpass betrayal.
An important element of irony can be seen when Bruno spies on the viewing of the propaganda film which shows the camps to be comfortable places where Jews are treated fairly and not made to suffer the hardships that truly existed. Bruno knows the difference and is disturbed. What is revealed in this scene?
Bruno is beginning to understand but is still fighting the reality that is unfolding around him. His mother is fading as she grows increasingly disturbed by her husband's role in maintaining the camp. Bruno no longer feels proud of his father. Bruno is struggling to make sense out of two conflicting views of reality. His innocence is slowly starting to give way. The film's final episode is filled with several stark ironies. List three of the ironies. Here are several ironies in the final episode.
There may be more. It is ironic that while the family is preparing to move the children to Berlin for safety, Bruno is preparing to move into danger by entering the camp to help his friend Shmuel find his father.
It is ironic that the goal of Bruno's father in his work is to kill Jewish people in the gas chambers and his son becomes a victim of one of those gas chambers. It is ironic that Bruno's effort to help his friend Shmuel, a loving and selfless act of friendship, will result in Bruno's death. It is ironic that some of the men herding the Jews into the camp are inmates, wearing the same striped pajamas as the people they are herding to their deaths, and that their own fates are not assured by this betrayal.
The plot of this film turns on one basic irony that is central to an important theme of the work. Can you identify any other stories in which the plot turns on a major irony that is central to an important theme? The overriding irony in "The Boy in the Striped Pajama" is that Bruno dies in a death camp which his father is administering for the purpose of killing Jews.
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