What kind of discussion questions could I ask from The Boy in Striped Pajamas in chapters 1 to 6?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that the best type of discussion questions that are seen in the first six chapters of Boyne's work has to do with how the Holocaust is viewed by Bruno and everyone else.  One of the basic elements that is illuminated in the first six chapters is how different Bruno is from everyone else.  He possesses a different sensibility than those around him.  At a time in Nazi Germany where conformity was stressed and so accepted, Bruno is distinguished in how different he perceives reality.  Asking to find examples of this in the first six chapters is a good set of discussion questions. One such instance could be in his pronunciation. Everyone around Bruno says, "Auschwitz," and says it correctly and accurately.  Bruno mispronounces it by saying "Out- With."  A good discussion question might be to focus on what it means that he distorts a word that itself distorted so much.  

This can also lead to a discussion question out of the fourth chapter when Gretel and Bruno see the world beyond the fence from their window.  They see different realities and it is essential to note the reality that Bruno observes, testament to his difference from the rest of the world. Finally, this same type of question can be seen in chapter 6, when Bruno sees Maria differently than other people do, such as Gretel.  In analyzing the importance of these moments and how Bruno sees reality differently than most, discussion questions that identify the arc of his characterization can bring out some of the major themes in the novel.


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