The Boy in the Striped Pajamas Study Guide
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas: Chapter Summaries
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas: Themes
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas: Characters
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas: Critical Essays
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas: Multiple-Choice Quizzes
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas: Questions & Answers
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas: Introduction
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas: Biography of John Boyne
Introduction to The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, written by John Boyne and published in 2006, is a novel about the unlikeliest of friends: a Nazi commandant's son and a Jewish concentration camp inmate. The novel, set in Nazi Germany, begins when nine-year-old Bruno and his family must move from their lovely home in Berlin to a new house in an unfamiliar place he refers to as “Out-With.” Tempted to explore his new environment, Bruno is told that there are certain places that are out of bounds. Unable to resist his adventurous impulses, however, Bruno sets forth into the unknown one afternoon. He meets and quickly befriends a shoeless boy wearing striped pajamas named Shmuel. As he grows closer to Shmuel, Bruno encounters more of the horror of his new home, which is not “Out-With” but in fact Auschwitz.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas explores the beauty and tragedy of a child’s innocence in a time of war, the human desire for friendship, and the fences—both literal and figurative—that we must all navigate and choose whether or not to break down.
A Brief Biography of John Boyne
John Boyne (born 1971) is an Irish novelist. He is best known for his 2006 novel The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, a work of Holocaust literature that explores the unlikely friendship between the son of a Nazi commander and a young Jewish boy in a concentration camp. Although the story is primarily fictional and often departs from historical fact, it has been praised for its themes surrounding friendship, innocence, and human nature. Boyne studied the history of the Holocaust for years prior to writing the novel, but he reportedly wrote the work itself in around three days, as is typical of his writing process. As partial inspiration for the novel’s themes of prejudice and friendship, he drew on his own experiences of being a gay man growing up in primarily Catholic Ireland. Boyne’s other novels, targeted towards both adults and children, have explored queer identity in relation to modern society. The culture and history of Ireland are also major inspirations for Boyne’s works.