I am doing a novel packet on "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" and in the packet it asks to include all literary devices, but I do not understand what they are.

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mrs-tolley eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Literary devices are any tools the writer uses to make the writing clearer, more vivid, and more enjoyable to read, and to give the story more depth. There are actually hundreds of literary devices. I'll give you a few examples of some of the most common literary devices that you can find in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.

Imagery: Imagery means the writer writes description so vividly that you have an image, or picture, in your mind as you are reading. There are a lot of kinds of imagery. Imagery can be visual, which creates a picture you can see in your mind's eye. Other kinds of imagery include tactile (what you can feel), aural (what you can hear), olfactory (what you can smell), and gustatory (what you can taste.) You can find lots of imagery in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. The first example of imagery is in the very first paragraph of Chapter 1, describing Maria, the family's maid: "... always kept her head bowed and never looked up from the carpet...." When you read this, you have a mental image of a maid standing with her head down, looking at the carpet. This imagery not only tells you something about Maria's appearance, it also tells you something about her character: she is shy and introverted.

Metaphor: Another literary device that is linked to imagery and used frequently is metaphor. A metaphor occurs when the writer describes something by comparing it to something else. A simile is a type of metaphor. You can remember the difference between these two similar literary devices because a metaphor is structured to say something IS something else, while a simile is structured to say something IS LIKE something else. A simile can also be structured to say something IS AS... AS something else, for example as tall as a tree or as big as a house.

When Bruno is showing Gretel the view out his window, he uses a metaphor: "...he was the king of everything they surveyed and she was his lowly subject." This metaphor compares Bruno to a king and Gretel to a servant. It shows that Bruno feels smug about having discovered something that his older sister didn't understand. It also reveals something about his character: Bruno is used to being the littlest in the family, so when he has an opportunity to be significant in some way, it makes him feel very important and powerful.

When Bruno sees his father with a group of soldiers, he uses a simile: "... they stood in a row together like toy soldiers...." This simile compares the men to toy soldiers, and when you read this simile, you can imagine the men standing in the same position as one another and looking very similar to each other.

Hyperbole: Another literary device that is used frequently in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is hyperbole. Hyperbole is an exaggeration. Bruno, the protagonist, is young, and the hyperbole has the effect of reminding the reader that the protagonist is just a little boy, because little children tend to exaggerate or see things as bigger than they actually are. Bruno uses hyperbole to describe his father's voice: "... there had never been a man born who was more capable of being heard from one side of a room to the other as father." This hyperbole shows that Bruno's father has a loud, powerful voice. It also gives the reader some insight into Bruno's father's character. He is a powerful man and influential on everyone around him.

ENotes has a handout listing some of the more common literary devices, which you can view by clicking here. You can also read more about the novel The Boy in the Striped Pajamas on eNotes here


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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

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