Who is the intended audience in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas?Who is the intended audience in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas?

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vangoghfan's profile pic

vangoghfan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I know nothing about this book but decided to do some research.  Here's what I found.

This site says that the book will be of interest to readers in grades 9-12 and requires a reading level of grade 8.3:

http://bookwizard.scholastic.com/tbw/viewWorkDetail.do?workId=1159874

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This site contains nearly 5000 reviews of the book (!); many of the reviews comment on reading level:

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39999.The_Boy_in_the_Striped_Pajamas

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School Library Journal gave the book a starred review and recommended it for readers in grades 9 and up:

http://www.amazon.com/Boy-Striped-Pajamas-John-Boyne/dp/0385751060

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Teachers themselves answer your question here:

http://www.proteacher.net/discussions/showthread.php?t=130134

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Hope this helps! Good luck!

kplhardison's profile pic

Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

The vocabulary and diction in which The Boy in the Stripped Pajamas is written indicates that the story is written for a school-age audience, of an age similar to the hero who has to stand "up on his tiptoes and [hold] on to the frame tightly" to see out the upstairs garret window. Even the title indicates the story is written for a young audience who would like boys and stripped pajamas. In addition, the fact that Bruno confuses sounds and hears things imperfectly, like "fury" in "Father ... was a man to watch and that the Fury had big things in mind for him," confirms the conclusion that the intended audience is school-aged children. Adolescents would be--or should be--bored with the simplistic representation of language and ideas:

One afternoon, when Bruno came home from school, he was surprised to find Maria ... standing in his bedroom, pulling all his belongings out of the wardrobe ... even the things he'd hidden at the back that belonged to him and were nobody else's business.

accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I agree with #3, and would in addition argue that this book is excellent in the way that it forces us to re-examine the Holocaust with new eyes through the unreliable narrator of Bruno. His lack of awareness of what is actually going on results in a heart-wrenching, agonising ending that really forced me to assess once again the true agony and pain of this dark period of history.

litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I agree that this book is an example of young adult historical fiction.  The book also appeals to adults though.  This book was written for the current generation, a generation that has grown up hearing about the terrible Holocaust but does not really understand what it is.

akannan's profile pic

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

Posted on

I would say that the intended audience of Boyne's work would have to be adolescent readers.  I say this for a couple of reasons.  Bruno is a nine year old child, who is becoming more aware of the world.  In the location of the subject at such an age, it is appealing to the adolescent or pre- adolescent reader.  Adults might find some historical novelty in seeing that aspects of the Holocaust through the eyes of a child, but the targeted audience is someone who can relate or understand Bruno.  The fact that he is chided for being too small, has problems with his parents, argues with his sister, and sees friendship as the most important element in his world are all traits of the adolscent and pre- adolescent reader.  Bruno's friendship with Shmuel is another aspect of literature written for the adolescent audience.  Friendship is a dominant theme in Boyne's work.  Bruno understands the horror of Auschwitz through his friendship with Shmuel.  Bruno's affirmation of this friendship in the gas chamber is intended to strike a chord with the adolescent reader.  Finally, Boyne's ending words of how this story "could never happen again" is meant to cause reflection within the adolescent reader.  It is meant to open a dialogue within the adolescent who, like Bruno, is becoming more questioning of their world and seeking to understand more of it.  I use the concepts of "adolescent" and "preadolescent" interchangeably.  I would say that the "preadolescent" might not be able to fully comprehend the subject matter of the Holocaust, wheres the adolescent reader has had some exposure to it in understanding it.

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