Was the ending of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne effective? Explain. 

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The end of the novel comes pretty quickly and feels rather rushed; however, perhaps that is part of the tragedy. It was often the fate of the Jews in the death camps like Auschwitz to be alive one moment and dead in literally the next moment.

The ending of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne is an effective one for several reasons. First, how else could a story with this setting end? There is no indication that things are getting better for the prisoners; in fact, Schmuel's father being "missing" is a huge foreshadowing that things are getting worse, despite the absence of the cruel Lieutenant Kotler. It is a horrifying setting, so we should not be surprised when horrifying things happen. In fact, they are appropriate to the story.

Second, what better way for the author to highlight the theme of his novel than to have two innocent boys die. Their situation, of course, is not really any different than what happened to thousands of other innocent Jews just in this one camp. Bruno's and Schmuel's dying is symbolic of all the other horrible and unjustified deaths during Hitler's reign of terror. 

Third, Bruno's father realizes what happens and suffers because of it. It is human nature to want to take revenge on those who have perpetrated wrongs, and we find Bruno's father's devastation to be satisfying. While we wish Bruno had lived, we are content to know that his father solves the mystery of his son's disappearance, is crushed by the realization, and is then presumably punished by the Allied soldiers who take over Auschwitz.

A few months after that some other soldiers came to Out-With and Father was ordered to go with them, and he went without complaint and he was happy to do so because he didn't really mind what they did to him any more.

Without this kind of poetic justice, the ending would not have been effective or satisfying for most readers. We are not happy that two innocent little boys were needlessly killed; however, we are glad that someone is paying a price for it. To that extent, the ending is apt and effective. 

emilyhoang7 | Student

no, i felt like they shouldn't have ended it like that. i was expecting the dad or somebody to save Bruno

tmcclure06 | Student

No, it seemed rushed.  There was lots of care developing the beginning of the book and the end came in a forced method.

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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

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