What are some good examples of imagery in Boyne's The Boy in the Striped Pajamas? And, of lesser importance, how might they relate to the story?

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Since Boyne's The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is written from the perspective of a ten-year-old, the images represent how he perceives the world around him. For example, the following passage shows how Bruno applies the senses of sound and sight in order to judge differences between the soldiers and his father:

"Father was the centre of them and looked very smart in his freshly pressed uniform . . . and as Bruno watched from above he felt both scared and in awe of him. He didn't like the look of the other men quite as much. They certainly weren't as handsome as Father. Nor were their uniforms as freshly pressed. Nor were their voices so booming or their boots so polished" (42).

Notice that Bruno applies the sense of sight when he compares how nice his father looks to the disheveled soldiers. He also uses the sense of sound to associate his father's "booming" voice to his important role as a commandant. Bruno's perceptions are important because they are naïve and do not lead him to believe that his father is doing anything wrong in his line of work.

Another example of imagery is found in the description of Lieutenant Kotler. The fact that his uniform is clean and pressed, and that his black boots "always sparkle with polish," shows that he is concerned with keeping up appearances rather than doing his job (71). Not only that, Bruno cannot stand to smell Lieutenant Kotler because of the amount of cologne he wears. Thus, the sight of Lieutenant Kotler doesn't impress Bruno, and Kotler's character stinks as much as his cologne.

Finally, the symbol of the striped pajamas is a visual image that represents the Holocaust. When Bruno first meets Shmuel, he notices the pajamas and the cloth cap on his head. He also notices the following:

He wasn't wearing any shoes or socks and his feet were rather dirty. On his arm he wore an armband with a star on it. 

As time goes on, Bruno notices that Shmuel becomes skinnier, while also appearing sickly and hungry. These visual images might remind one of the pictures of Holocaust victims and the suffering they had to endure at the hands of the Nazis.

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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

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