In The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne, how could the new home serve as a symbol for the family?

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

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The new home near Auschwitz could easily serve as a symbol of Nazi success, and also as a symbol of Hitler's control.  The family learns about the new home when Hitler comes to dinner with Eva.  Afterwards, Bruno sees that his mother's eyes are “more red than usual,” and she explains that Bruno and the whole family will be going on “a great adventure.”  She further explains that Hitler has “big things in mind” for Bruno's dad and is placing him in Nazi occupied Poland for “a very special job that needs doing.” Bruno only knows that his dad wears a very fancy uniform and orders people around.  Because Bruno's mom is obviously disturbed at having to move (hence her red eyes), this shows that the new home is truly a symbol of Hitler's control of the family.  However, everything that Bruno's mom says shows that the new home is also a symbol of Nazi success.  According to Hitler, it truly was an important job to oversee the extermination of Jews at the Auschwitz concentration camp: the more Jews killed, the bigger the Nazi success.

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bohemianteacher4u | College Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

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Bruno's mother shares with Bruno that they have to make the best out of the situation. The family had to move because of the father's position in the military under the Nazi government. Bruno's father is trapped because if he turned down the promotion, he could have been sent to the Russian front, a worse location and often a death sentence for troops. The house symbolizes the entrapment of the family.

The new house that Bruno and his family move to has as many new regimes as his father's new assignment. Their former home was lively, and the rooms were large and welcoming. His grandparents had lived nearby, and Bruno's friends visited. Bruno went to school and had opportunities for social contacts.

The house symbolizes the changes that are occurring in Bruno's family. The new home seems as closed off to Bruno as his father's new office. His family had been close, and his mother was supportive of his father. Now his family appears to be breaking apart. His grandmother opposes his father's job, and the move isolates the family from all the people they had formerly known.

The new house feels empty and desolate, and there are no children for Bruno to play with nor a school to attend. The house is small compared to their former home. In the empty new neighborhood, there are no other houses or neighbors to drop by and visit or shops to explore. The isolation of the home symbolizes the isolation of the family from their previous life.

Bruno's mother, his sister, and Bruno had to accompany his father because of their duty to him and to show support and keep the family together. His father's appointment was initially presented to them as a prestigious position. However, the move is hardly prestigious for the family because the father is now in charge of a concentration camp. It is in these ways that the new home symbolizes Bruno's family.

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