What are some examples of opression in "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas"?

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schulzie eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Oppression as defined by Dictionary.com  is

"the exercise of authority or power in a burdensome, cruel, or unjust manner."

Using this definiition, the following can be considered acts of oppression.

1. When the Jews were made to wear the Stars of David.  Schmel says

"I came home from school and my mother was making armbands for us froma special cloth and drawing a star on each one.....And every time we left thehouse, she told us we had to wear one of those armbands." (pg 126-127)

2. When the Jews were taken out of their homes and made to live in one room with another family behind the walls of an encampment.

" ...we were told we couldn't live in our house we had to move to a different part of Cracow where the soldiers built a big wall and my mother and father and my brother and I all had to live in one room....All of us --eleven in all. (pg 128)

3. When the Jews were all forced onto the trains to the prison camp

"There were too many of us in the carriages for one thing.  There was no air to breathe.  And it smelled awful." (pg 129)

4. Bruno explains how he was separated from his mother and he keeps asking Bruno for food because he is starving. 

"..Bruno found that he was starting to worry about his friend because he seemed to be getting thinner by the day and his face was growing more and more grey." (pg 161)

5. Lieutenant Kotler's treatment of Pavel at dinner.  Even Bruno's father couldn't look at what the lieutenant did to Pavel.  It left an impression on Bruno He thinks,

"....he'd better not disagree with anyone any more about anything, in fact he would do well to keep his oth shut and cause no chaos at ll.  Some people might not like it." (149)

6. When Bruno first enters the prison camp, he is expecting huts full of happy people. Instead he found,

"...crowds of people sitting togeher in groups, staringat the grund, looking horribly sad, they all had one thing in common, they were terribly skinny and their eyes were sunken, and thay all had shaved heads which Bruno thought must have meant there had been an outbrak of live here too." (pg 208)

7. None of the oppressed people were allowed to work at their jobs.  For example, Pavel was a doctor but was forced to work as a waiter.  Schmuel's mother was a teacher and spoke five languages.

8. However, even some of the Germans felt oppressed. When Bruno is upset about moving to "Out With" and he sees how Gretel is treating Maria, he wants to express his opinion to his father. Maria tells him,

"Just keep quiet about it, Bruno.  Don't you know how much trouble you could cause? For all of us." ( pg 65)

9. After Bruno dies, his father goes to the place in the fence that was loose.  He was the Commandant of the camp and yet...

"A few months after that some other soldiers came to Out-With and Fathers was ordered to go with them, and he went without complaint and he was happy to do so because he diddn't really mind what they did to him any more." (pg 216)

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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

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