How does The Boy in the Striped Pajamas relate to history and memory?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In order to understand the role of history and memory in Boyne's work, I think that we have to go back to his closing words of the book.  At the end, Boyne offers a categorical statement that might allow a greater facilitation of understanding the role of memory in the book:

...of course all this happened a long time ago and nothing like that could ever happen again. Not in this day and age.

History and memory are linked in Boyne's mind.  The reality is that Boyne understands clearly that as more time passes from the Holocaust, the foggier it becomes.  For Boyne, his novel is a reminder that the Holocaust was real and that the suffering that happened as a result of both political and personal cruelty should not be forgotten.  Boyne uses his text as a launching point for reflection in the reader.  Essentially, he challenges the reader to respond to his statement that the Holocaust could not happen, "not in this day and age."  It is a stunning reminder that to deny the Holocaust is almost as bad as saying that it will never happen again.  In this closing sentiment, Boyne's work is a reminder that reflection about the Holocaust and all that it encompasses is the first step to ensuring that individual rights for all are upheld and voices are not silenced.  This becomes Boyne's purpose and how his work relates to history and memory.

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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

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