narratorWho is telling the story?   and also what style soes the writer use and is this typical for a certain period in literature? do you know of the literary background of this period( one or...

narrator

Who is telling the story?

 

and also

what style soes the writer use and is this typical for a certain period in literature? do you know of the literary background of this period( one or two short remarks will do)

 

Thanks

Asked on by bobbianne

8 Answers | Add Yours

kplhardison's profile pic

Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

You may be getting a couple of things mixed together. The novel was published in 2006 (the movie was released in 2008). The setting is World War II. Since Bruno is nine years old at the beginning of the story and his birth year was 1934, we can project the setting to 1943 (1934 + 9 = 1943).

Some of the top books published in the year 1943 were The Little Prince, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and The Screwtape Letters. Two of these are in first-person narration while the other, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, is in limited third-person narration.

This small sample doesn't prove literary period style but does indicate that a limited third-person narrator was equally popular with a first-person narrator during 1943. Remember, though, 1943 is not when the book was written or published. All this can tell you is that Boyne selected a narratorial style that was compatible with the literary period he is writing about. It is certain that third-person was still quite a popular narratorial style for 2006.

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belarafon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

The book is written in a limited third-person perspective, allowing the reader only the thoughts in Bruno's head -- Bruno, a child of about eight, is the "narrator," but only to the extent that we do not have other character POV in the narration. As others have said, this gives the sense of not fully understanding the horrors of the concentration camps; on the other hand, it also limits what we can know about situations to what Bruno experiences directly. Therefore, all major events either have to occur in Bruno's sight, or be recounted to him later; this can be awkward to pull off.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

What is so fascinating about this story is the point of view of the narration. By choosing a young boy to tell the story, the author is able to present a child's perspective of the Holocaust. This of course is something that heightens the tragedy, as the youthful narrator does not know what he is looking at when he sees the concentration camp from his window. He is a profoundly unreliable narrator because of his youth and naivety.

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

While Bud, Not Buddy (by Christopher Paul Curtis) has a totally different feel (it deals with the Depression, but is not as unsettling as The Boy in the Striped Pajamas), it also is told in the "narrow/limited" THIRD-person point of view. It is from this style that some of the humor is delivered to a reader sophisticated enough to understand it.

In "The Boy", we see this when the narrator describes a talk he had with his mother in the dining room...

'Come downstairs with me,' said Mother, leading the way towards the large dining room where the Fury had been to dinner the week before. 'We'll talk down there.'

The reference to "the Fury" is a child's way of describing the "Fuhrer," or Adolf Hitler. The fact that the child's version of "Fuhrer" would make it seem like it is being told from the child's perspective, the story is not told using the pronoun "I." The narrator is omniscient in that he/she understands what is happening in the child's mind, but I believe the story is told in third person.

For instance, in "Bud...," the boy (Bud) meets Miss Thomas and believes she is the prettiest "human bean" he has ever seen. It shows the reader how children often don't hear things clearly or don't understand things that we assume are easily understood—but it is because we are adults.

This kind of writing, however, allows the adult to see the world through the eyes of simplicity as the world is seen by a child. This is also the same method Harper Lee used in To Kill a Mockingbird, allowing some of Scout's memories to come to us through very young eyes, while other recollections are shared with the adult Scout. Using a child to tell a story may rob the narrator of some credibility, but the honesty usually shown by a young narrator cleans away a great deal of clutter, allowing the reader to see through to the important aspects of the plot more easily. ("Mockingbird" was printed in the 1960s; Bud, Not Buddy was printed in 1999.)

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kiwi | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

I agree with #4. There has been an emergence of this type of fiction in recent years. I would cite examples such as "Room" by Emma Donoghue in 2010, where an account of captivity and imprisonment is written through the limited perspective and experience of a five year-old boy. Similarly, Mark Haddon's 2005 novel,  "The curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time" which is told from the point of view of a fifteen year old autistic boy creates similar challenges for the reader.

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e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

The narrow/limited first person perspective described by litteacher8 is characteristic of some writers of modernism, like Faulkner, who wrote before WWII.

However, if the limits of the narrator's perspective are meant to create a dramatic effect and to hint at a darker world outside of the narrator's ability to understand, we are dealing with a writing model that probably can't be tied to a particular era of literature.

A narrator's struggle against an inability to understand himself/herself is a hallmark of modernism, but a narrator's inability to understand the complex world around him/her is not characteristic of any genre or period I am aware of.

litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

All right, I understand that The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is what this question is about. The book was written recently, but takes place during World War II near a concentration camp. The book is similar to other Holocaust literature in that it focuses on the humanity of the characters involved, but is unique in that the narrator is a child that does not understand what is going on, so we get a child's innocent perspective.
bobbianne's profile pic

bobbianne | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

Ok but what style does the writer use and is this typical for a certain period in literature and what do we know of the literary background of this period?

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