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It is hard to determine if the boy in Jerzy Kosinski's powerful World War II novel, The Painted Bird, loses his ability to speak from just one specific act of cruelty. The various acts of hatred perpetrated against him are almost too numerous to recall, and they all seem to build to the terrible result of the boy's sudden muteness. After the boy is captured by German soldiers, he is handed over to a priest, who passes him on to a local farmer named Garbos. Garbos beats the boy relentlessly and tortures the boy by hanging him just out of reach of the man's vicious dog. The priest allows him to serve as an altar boy, and the boy hopes that prayer and the church will release him from the tortures he endures on the farm. When the boy drops a missal, an important prayer book, during church service, the villagers--thinking him evil--deposit him into a pit filled with manure. When he surfaces from the filthy pile, he can no longer speak. These events take place in Part Two of the novel.
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