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

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is an interesting question and topic to explore.  On one hand, there is a definite retelling of history present.  It is told from the point of view of those who lack power during the time period, and is related through the transcendent notion of friendship.  Yet, it is fictional.  This makes a construction of memory one that, technically, did not exist.  It is precisely in this seeming contradiction that I think history and memory can coalesce.  While the story is fictional, the voice and narrative that emerges is not.  This is where the heart of historical fiction lies.  Through this emergence, one can see how history and memory are linked to one another.  The memories of Auschwitz and of those who endured or perished in the Holocaust helps to give our understanding of the history process.  Narratives and stories that emerge from the time period, such as Boyne's, helps to form our own understanding of the history of the time period by imprinting the voice which comes out of the story into our memory.  After reading the story, the clothes that the prisoners wear and how they might actually look like "striped pajamas" resonates in our mind in both the most innocent and most horrific of ways.

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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

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