Bruno, a nine-year old boy living in Berlin with his wealthy family, who comes home one day from school to find they are moving to a place called ‘Out-With’. Bruno’s father’s has been given a work promotion, by order of the “Fury” ‘Out-With’ as Bruno called it is a place in the middle of nowhere and even Bruno’s mother is uneasy with the desolate surroundings, and his parents argue about it.
Bruno’s adventurous nature gets the better of him and he discovers that there are people living nearby. People living in a strange high-walled building; and who walk around aimlessness and who all wearing blue striped pyjamas. Bruno’s imagination is ignited and he soon befriends a boy, just like him, who has had to leave his home behind because of the ‘Fury’.
This book is a story of friendship that crosses boundaries at the time and ultimately results in a very tragic end.
The language of the characters ‘Out-With’ and ‘the Fury’ give the book an innocent feel ,the story is clean and simple to read. Bruno is presented as very naive boy with no knowledge of the world around him, I find this frustrating while Shmuel is a character that says very little, and is resigned to his fate.
Is this Boyne`s intention? Is Boyne deliberately making us think? I personally don’t think so I think he under estimated the mind of a 9 year old and the target audience.
Having had further thoughts on Boyne’s use of a child narrator, I have decided to analyse it as a deliberate device and a way of story-telling. There are passages within the book that I have criticised because I deem the viewpoint too simplistic or naive. However if we were to look at the book from an analytical standpoint, there is much to say about Boyne’s intent and message to the reader. Arguably WW2 was one of the most senseless and incomprehensibly violent wars the world has ever seen. The sense of gross defilement that victims went through is still very hard to process. Psychologically, there will always be a ‘why’ that the survivors of the holocaust have carried and will carry with them till they die. It’s like an empty vacuum that cannot be filled with an answer, because there isn’t one.
The children in the story represent both of these mentalities. The vacuum I spoke about is evident in his description and actions. He understands the suffering, knows the pain, yet cannot (or IS not capable) of questioning it due to his age. The main character however is far more innocent. He has zero concept of the world around him (which is the only thing I don’t like about this book).
This could also reflect in the innocent childish lisp that he has. There are certain words that have become imbued with horror that the child cannot pronounce come what may. I forget exactly which words they were, but I think ‘Auschwitz’ was one and possibly ‘Hitler’ was another. I found this to be quite potent, as Boyne is clearly signalling how some words are not fit to grace the lips of children. In some cases, people who suffer some sort of psychological trauma also develop speaking difficulties. We could also argue that the child…