The novel The Boy in the Striped Pajamas was written by John Boyne and first published in 2006. The story is set in the Nazi era and follows the unlikely friendship between the German boy Bruno, whose father is a “commandant” at Auschwitz concentration camp, and Shmuel, a Jewish boy who is a prisoner in the concentration camp.
Whether the story is good or bad is a very subjective question, as it very much relies on personal taste. Personally, I think it is a great story, and there are a number of reasons why I believe this to be the case. I will focus here on the most important reasons for my judgement.
Firstly, I like the message behind the story. It shows how children are able to make friends with anyone, regardless of what their personal, religious, or cultural background are. Adults, on the other hand, are frequently influenced by politics and society, by what is deemed appropriate and what isn’t. Bruno states that he had “never heard of (Shmuel’s) name” before, but that he “like(s) the way it sounds when (he) say(s) it.” He does not care that the boy’s name is Jewish at all. The two boys are very innocent, and so is their friendship. The fact that Shmuel is a Jew is not a problem for Bruno, as he just sees Shmuel for what he is—another little boy.
Another reason why I believe that the story is good is the fact that the story is set in a historic period of time that actually existed, which means it is interesting to read historically. It even includes real personalities from this era, such as Adolf Hitler, which makes this fictional story appear more realistic. For example, Bruno tells us that “the Fury had been to dinner the week before.” Because he is only a young child, Bruno is not able to pronounce Hitler’s title “The Führer” properly. Instead, he refers to him as “the Fury.” In my mind, this adds further authenticity to the story, as this would be a typical way of mispronouncing this difficult word for a young German child. Furthermore, the choice of mispronouncing "The Führer" as "the Fury" also shows the author’s sense of humor. When looking at this more closely, the reader can see the irony behind these words: Hitler was notorious for giving very intense speeches, gesticulating angrily and furiously whilst speaking. This makes Bruno’s mispronunciation of his title very ironic and entertaining for the reader, another reason why this novel is a very well written novel.