set of striped pajamas behind a barbed wire fence

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

by John Boyne

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Give an example of identity foreclosure for Bruno in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.

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According to psychoanalyst Erik Erikson, it is important for individuals to explore new ideas and values, challenge perspectives, and seek alternate views on life in order to develop one's personal identity. Identity foreclosure takes place when an adolescent embraces a set a values and viewpoints from a dominant authority figure, typically one's father, without questioning or exploring other ideas independently to shape one's identity. The character of Bruno in the novel The Boy in the Striped Pajamas displays signs of identity foreclosure throughout the novel. In Chapter 10, Bruno meets Shmuel for the first time. He asks Shmuel where he is from, and Shmuel says that he's from Poland. Bruno says, "That's not as good as Germany, is it?" (Boyne 111). Bruno continues to say, "Well, because Germany is the greatest of all countries...We're superior" (Boyne 112). Bruno has openly accepted his father and grandfather's views regarding their homeland. Bruno has not challenged their belief that Germany is the greatest nation or has sought other alternative views regarding other countries' statuses. Bruno believing that Germany is the greatest nation in the world without questioning or searching for alternative answers would be considered a sign of identity foreclosure.

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