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How does The Boy in the Striped Pajamas portray the theme of "Exploring Prejudice and...

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guesswhoiam | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 6, 2012 at 2:30 AM via web

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How does The Boy in the Striped Pajamas portray the theme of "Exploring Prejudice and Discrimination"?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 9, 2012 at 10:25 PM (Answer #1)

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I tend to think that the theme of what it means to explore and delve into the theme of prejudice and discrimination is evident throughout the work.  Yet, it seems that Chapter 19 is the best example of how this theme is evident and becomes so large in understanding the narrative that Boyne develops.  When Bruno dresses like Shmuel, as the boy in the striped pajamas, it is evident that there is no difference between both boys.  They look exactly alike.  For Boyne, this becomes the critical element in the narrative.  It is here where the greatest delving into the exploration of prejudice and discrimination is evident.  In this case, the boys are exactly alike.  One is unable to tell them apart.  The labels of "German" and "Jewish" become moot at this point.  Prejudice and discrimination are seen to be nothing more than social constructs, arbitrary at best.  Shmuel remarks that it is “quite extraordinary” how much alike they look; it is “almost...as if they [are] exactly the same.”  Prejudice and discrimination are shown to be useless in terms of their validity.  It is at this moment, the moment where Bruno makes the strongest possible stand against prejudice and discrimination, where the greatest statement is made about what it means to explore the idea of prejudice and discrimination.

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