How are the plot elements in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas influenced by the conflict that drives the text?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I am not sure that Boyne's work can actually function as effectively outside of the Holocaust conflict that is present.  Everything in the work is driven by the Holocaust.  Bruno's family having to be moved to Auschwitz is what sets the story in motion.  The fact that Bruno refers to it as "Out- With" is another implication of the Holocaust.  Bruno's seminal instruction of not to go on the "other side" of the fence is something that reflects the condition of the Holocaust.  The ambivalence that Maria feels early on and conveys to Bruno is Holocaust- based.  The discoveries that Bruno makes about life in Auschwitz are all based upon the Holocaust.  His friendship with Shmuel is poignant because both boys are alike, but the Holocaust creates them as entirely different.  The zenith of the story, when Bruno honors his word to help Shmuel find his family, is a poignant one because of the horror of the Holocaust. Bruno's death is a result of the Holocaust creation of the gas chamber.  His family's mourning, and his father's horrific realization, are all reflections of the Holocaust's legacy on those who survived it and the ending with which Boyne concludes the narrative about how this story "could not happen" today are all reflections of how the Holocaust setting and the conflicts it presents drive the story.

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