The novel The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, written by John Boyne , was first published in 2006. It is set during the Nazi regime and deals with the unlikely friendship between a German boy, whose father works as a “Commandant” at the concentration camp Auschwitz, and a Jewish...
The novel The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, written by John Boyne, was first published in 2006. It is set during the Nazi regime and deals with the unlikely friendship between a German boy, whose father works as a “Commandant” at the concentration camp Auschwitz, and a Jewish boy who is a prisoner in the camp.
One of the main themes of the novel is the theme of innocence. Bruno is too young to understand what is going on around him, and he doesn’t understand politics. We can see this when he refers to Adolf Hitler as “The Fury” as opposed to “The Führer,” because he is unable to pronounce it properly. In Auschwitz, Bruno is blissfully unaware of what is going on around him, which is why he calls the prisoners’ uniforms “striped pajamas,” assuming that the people live voluntarily in the camp. He is simply a curious child, who takes interest in his surroundings and wants to explore.
Therefore, when he becomes friendly with Shmuel, a Jewish boy and a prisoner in Auschwitz, Bruno at first does not quite grasp the extent of the danger this brings for both him and Shmuel. This theme of innocence in children can help the readers of the novel to better understand the story, as most people will be able to relate to the natural innocence and curiosity within children. Curiosity and a desire to explore, without fully understanding potential dangers, are typical for young children all over the world. This makes this theme as valid today as it was in the time of the story. One could even say that being able to relate to Bruno’s innocence makes the book more tragic for the reader, as the sad ending is purely the result of this innocent curiosity. Bruno had no idea what danger he was about to enter. He was like any other young boy of his age: out and about with his friend, filled with curiosity, and trying to explore.