From The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, discuss if it was unethical to invite Hitler to dinner.From The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, discuss if it was unethical to invite Hitler to dinner.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

By modern standards, there is little doubt that inviting Hitler over to dinner as a guest is unethical, or at the very least, morally repugnant.  Yet, I think that one has to see this in the context of the story.  One of the most stunning elements of the story is that it constructs Nazism as something that was not seen as the personification of evil it is today.  Rather, it was banal and commonplace.  People worked in the Nazi organization no differently than modern business people work in organizations with a CEO that must be impressed.  Bruno's father is one of these individuals and the dinner was an attempt to "impress" his CEO, which happened to be Hitler.  There is little evidence to indicate that Bruno's father is one who speaks from a position where there is a moral embrace of Nazism.  In a very deliberate manner, Boyne constructs Bruno's father as "doing a job."  He is following orders and his invitation of Hitler to dinner is not necessarily an ethical embrace of Nazism, but rather an attempt to further his own career.  With all of this in mind, the story is profound because it stresses that individuals cannot simply say that they "are doing a job" when it is evident that evil is around them.  This is seen in the form of Bruno's grandparents, especially his grandmother.  The ending is one that also supports this, as Bruno's father loses his reason for living when he realizes what happened to Bruno.  It is here where a moral or ethical statement is understood.  Yet, I don't think that this decision resides in the invitation of Hitler over to dinner.

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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

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