[2014] Piper McKinney (ENG1De): The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

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[2014] Piper McKinney (ENG1De): The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

The Boy In The Striped Pajamas

By: John Boyne



There are many conflicts within the story, such as the fact that Bruno does not want to leave Berlin, however, the main conflict is that Bruno and Shmuel are friends. As the child of a Nazi SS Commander Bruno's friendship with a Jewish boy named Shmuel is absolutely forbidden and it leads to Shmuel being beaten up by Lt. Kotler and the ultimate death of both children. This conflict is man vs. society because the story focuses on one specific Jew (Shmuel) and how he was being tortured and murdered by the Nazi society who hated him and the other Jews.

The protagonists: In this novel the protagonists are Shmuel and Bruno. They are the protagonists because the book revolves around them and focuses on their actions and experiences. The Antagonists: There were a few antagonists within the novel, these are Lieutenant Kotler, Bruno's father (commander of the concentration camp), The Fuhrer and the Nazis. These were all people who mistreated the jews and set out the rule for Germans not to be friends with Jewish people.

In this novel the major theme is how prejudice against religion can have a huge negative effect on numerous people. The author, John Boyne, portrayed two main messages within this book. The first is that friendship can overcome differences. The other message is that people aren't born judgemental, they develop it by copying the actions of others.


Bruno comes from a wealthy family, in which his dad was promoted to become an SS comander at the concentration camp, Aushchwitz. They move from Berlin, Germany to Poland, where this camp is located. Bruno befriends a little boy (who he is not supposed to because of their religion difference) who is strangley dressed in striped pajamas. This boy is named Shmuel who lives behind an electric fence.

The Boy In The Striped Pajamas is a novel that took place during WW2, in the 1940's. It is about two children who form a friendship, even though they come from two different races who do not get along. Many characters in the book learn the negative effect of prejudice.


After Pavel, the Jewish servant, spilled wine on Lt. Kotler, "he grew very angry with Pavel and no one stepped in to stop him doing what he did next, even though none of them could watch." (pg 148). Although John Boyne does not specifically say it, this phrase infers what happened to Pavel. Lt. Kotler blamed Pavel and beat him up for something so small and trivial as spilling wine which Pavel only did by accident. Lt. Kotler's actions shows prejudice towards Pavel because he is hurting him because he can just because he is a Jew. If it were Maria, the German servant, who had spilled the wine, Kotler would have simply allowed her to clean it up and would have done nothing more about it.

Quote 1

Gretel tells Bruno that the Jews are, ”Not the type of children I want t play with, they look filthy... Those children look like they’ve never had a bath in their lives." (pg. 37). This quote demonstrates prejudice towards the Jews because Gretel is basing her views strictly on appearance. Gretel is not aware of what exactly the concentration camp is, so she does not know that the Jews are unable to have baths. Although they do look filthy, it is wrong to judge someone based on their appearance and not want to hangout with someone because of the way they look.

Bruno's father speaks to Bruno about the Jews, "Those people, well, they're not people at all, Bruno. Well, at least not as we understand the term. You have nothing whatsoever in common with them." (pg 53). This a very important quote as it shows the attitude of prejudice towards the Jews because the dad is saying that the Jewish people are not people at all, when really they are the same as everybody else. The Jews never did anything to deserve the atrocities that happened to them at the hands of the Nazi's, and the Nazi's never had a legitimate reason to do what they did to the Jews. This quote demonstrates how prejudice affects people because they are treating innocent Jews as though they were worthless and inhuman.

Quote 2

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The song called "Red Sector A" by Rush illustrates the theme developed in the novel that prejudice against religion can have a huge detrimental impact on many people. This song shows this theme by referencing the holocaust. In the song it says the horrible things that the Nazi's did to the Jews like starving them, "Don't feel the hunger" and killing them, "Skeletons, they shuffle away". The song also demonstrates how scared the Jewish people were, "I clutch the wire fence until my fingers bleed". The insane and barbaric treatment by the Nazi's was all because of religious intolerance.


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