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John Boyne makes his commentary on the Holocaust through the eyes of a nine-year-old boy named Bruno in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, and he reveals in his author's note why he made the decision to write the story from Bruno's perspective.
I believed that the only respectful way for me to deal with this subject was through the eyes of a child and particularly through the eyes of a rather naive child who couldn't possibly understand the terrible things that were taking place around him. After all, only the victims and survivors can truly comprehend the awfulness of that time and place; the rest of us live on the other side of the fence, staring through from our own comfortable place, trying in our own clumsy way to make sense of it all.
Boyne is right. The most effective stories about the Holocaust have been written by those who have survived it, most notably Elie Wiesel's Night and Corrie Ten Boom's The Hiding Place, or whose words at least survived it, as Anne Frank's diary. There is an authenticity to their writing which it is hard to capture without firsthand knowledge.
If I were writing such a fictional story, I would probably feel like I should include all of the awful details of the camps and the Holocaust in order to be sure I painted the full horror of everything. What is most striking about the writings of the survivors, however, is the dramatic understatement that they generally employ. This factual, unsensationalized tone is much more effective in depicting the horrors of their experiences, and the same effect is achieved by looking at "Out-With" and the "Fury" through the eyes of a child.
All Bruno does is tell us what he sees; we are left to recognize the realities and fill in the gaps on our own. And we are appropriately horrified at the things the naive and innocent boy is spared from knowing but that we (the readers) can never and must never forget. Telling the story through Bruno's eyes was an effective choice.
It was best for the author to write the book from the perspective of Bruno -the son of the Nazi and main character- because the mindset that follows the amount of maturity any nine year old boy would contain displays youthful characteristics adults grow out of. Such as childhood innocence which Bruno and Shmuel both share. Also Bruno being a child makes it easier for the audience to notice the brainwash from the Holocaust and how easy it is to influence someone's state of mind, especially a childs.
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