The style of the novel has an enormous influence on its interpretation and impact. Discuss this style of telling the story in terms of The Boy in The Striped Pajamas

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

John Boyne chooses a nine-year old boy to narrate the harrowing story of The Boy in The Striped Pajamas and is able to reduce the details to the simplest terms thereby creating impact so that the real message of cruelty and futility is not lost on even a young reader. People relate to the innocence of these boys, ensuring that there can be no misunderstanding of Boyne's intentions. Attempts to make sense of any of the situations described become immaterial when faced with the reality. This prevents readers from detaching themselves and allows them to become involved. 

Stories from the Holocaust abound and writers attempt to add their own feelings of shame and disgust for something with no rational objective. In The Boy in The Striped Pajamas, expressing the viewpoint of a nine-year old who cannot even pronounce words that would stick on many adults' tongues, saying "Out-With" and "Fury," adds a glimmer of hope in a desperate situation. These contextual clues allow the reader to appreciate the real situation of the Holocaust whilst dealing with one boy's struggle to understand his circumstances. Allowing the historical knowledge of the reader to direct his or her understanding of events, John Boyne thus avoids having to give explicit descriptions of actual atrocities, concentrating on drawing the reader into a potentially real (although the book is fictitious)situation. 

No amount of explanations or efforts to explain the motives of people represented by Bruno's father, can change anything. Bruno, despite his complaints, tries to make the best of his situation. Even in this "desolate, empty place" he manages to find a friend. 

The author's style ensures that Bruno simplifies the situation. It is his innocence and youth that prevent him from grasping the reality. The Nazis had no such excuse and, despite everything, the anguish of a family for a missing son, crosses all boundaries and really does make the reader think that for all their apparent differences, these boys are, in Shmuel's words,  "exactly the same." 

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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

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