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How does The Boy in the Striped Pajamas explore the concept of persecution?

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t-su | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 22, 2011 at 9:56 PM via web

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How does The Boy in the Striped Pajamas explore the concept of persecution?

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

Posted July 22, 2011 at 10:16 PM (Answer #1)

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I think that Boyne looks at persecution from an individual standpoint.  In doing so, it is broadened out into a social one.  From this, the experience of the subjective or personal becomes applicable to the universal one. It makes sense that this is the perspective adopted.  Since Bruno is the one who is the center of the narration, the eyes of a child will only focus on persecution as they see it in their own reality.  In Bruno's mind, there is "something different" about the people who wear "the striped pajamas."  Persecution does look different when Bruno notices how small Schmuel's fingers are and it does resemble the sense of hurt when Bruno remains silent while Schmuel is abused.  Bruno never makes any sweeping indictments of the Nazis because most children do not do that.  Instead, Bruno recognizes persecution on a small level, with minor elements that do not alter the design of history or the narrative of the Holocaust, but help to bring these principles to the forefront of the reader.  It is through Bruno that we, the reader, understand the horror of persecution.  When Bruno sees the sadness in "Out- With" when he slips under the fence, we know what he experiences.  We also understand how Bruno's response to persecution should be our own when he tells Schmuel that he is his "best friend for life."  It is through the eyes of a child that persecution is explored and understood.  This makes the narrative more meaningful and something that resonates with effectiveness as a child has told us, the reader, what millions of adults never quite understood about persecution and the Holocaust.

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