In The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, when Grandmother disagrees with the Nazi views, how does the family react? What role does she play in the novel? What does she symbolize?

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hebronchester90 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne, the Grandmother's disapproval is not at first understood. She has the opposite reaction of Grandfather when their son is promoted to Commandant. She never forgives him for his actions and this causes a rift.

Later Father understands why his mother would be horrified, but at the time he was caught up in the Nazi movement, like everyone else. Grandmother is the voice of reason and perspective. She demonstrates the rightful aversion to Nazism. Her role in the novel is to represent the opposition non-supporters experienced. Her correct reasoning is not met with understanding. Her judgment is not understood.

In the end, of course, Father understands that killing innocent people is not right, no matter what reason, no matter what movement. In this way, Grandmother symbolizes perspective. She was able to empathize with the victims and see the truth behind what was happening at concentration camps. She did not get caught up in the moment, and could see for herself, with individual eyes, the difference between right and wrong. Father and the others had no perspective. They did not understand how history would see them. Grandmother did.

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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

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