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How can male dominance be seen as a theme in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas?

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tighemeg | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 23, 2013 at 1:01 PM via iOS

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How can male dominance be seen as a theme in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas?

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akannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 26, 2013 at 9:28 PM (Answer #1)

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I think that the futility of male dominance might be a theme in Boyne's work.  Male dominance is seen in distinct contexts in the novel.  The pursuit of the father's career in the SS is what compels him to move his family to Auschwitz.  It is male dominance that forces the family to be uprooted.  The only way that this male dominance is limited is through Bruno's death.  The reality that accompanies this is that the father's aggressiveness towards his career was a futile pursuit.

Bruno might embody the theme of male dominance in how he appropriates his being in Auschwitz.  The confident manner in which he sets out on his "adventure" with Shmuel is one example of Bruno's foray into male dominance.  Certainly, this ends in the most brutal way imaginable.  The ending of the gas chamber is another example of how male dominance is seen as a futile endeavor.

Finally, Hitler, or "the fury" might be another example of male dominance with futility as the only tangible result.  Hitler represents the epitome of male dominance, as his decisions drive both the narrative of the novel, but that of the Holocaust.  Hitler's power and the aura that surrounds him as a "decisive leader" would represent male dominance.  The ending of the war as one that exposed his own failures and his own inabilities, resulting in his suicide, would be another example of how male dominance is shown to be futile.  In the end, all three examples reflect the presence of male dominance in the novel.  Yet, it is a reality that is fraught with failure and shortcoming.

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