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Literary devices

1. Imagery- In chapter 2 when Bruno describes the city where he used to live he uses the
terms colorful shop fronts and the leeks and vegetable spilling out of the stalls. These
descriptions gives the reader a thorough description of not just the environment but also
of how much Bruno missed the way the city made him feel. Imagine if they just told you
that the city had shops it would not give you a feel of the environment. All in all, the city
symbolizes the happiness Bruno felt while being at home.
2. Metaphor- In chapter 2 when Bruno is standing in front of the new house he uses the
metaphor Everything felt cool as if she was in the middle of nowhere. to describe the
new house environment. He compares the coolness of the air not just to tell you the
temperature, but more to tell you how negative the environment was surrounding the
house. When you think of a cold place you think of a haunted house almost. Most places
you go if they are pleasant have a warm environment. SO the coldness represents
negativity in this situation because cold is a negative feeling.

3. Idiom Also in chapter 2, Bruno tries to express to his mom how much he wants to go home.
In this talk with his mom he uses the idiom Chalk it up to an experience. This is an idiom
because it is something you hear often, but it does not literally mean what it says. For example,
its raining cats and dogs is an idiom. This idioms literal definiton actually refers to drawing on
a chalkboard. Figuratively, Chalk it up to an experience expresses how much Bruno wants to go

4. Simile- When they are first inside the new house Bruno and Maria happen to see a young
solider walking out from Brunos dads office. In respect for the solider, Maria bows and places
her hands together like a person in prayer. This simile is used to show how Maria placed her
hands. In this part of the story, it was clever placement because now you have an idea of Marias

5. In the story Bruno has a sister named Gretchen who is 2 years older than him and has many
nasty habits including spending too long in the bathroom. One of her worse habits is the fact that
she collects dools. Bruno thinks that the dolls were watching him all the time and uses the term
The dolls had eyes that followed me around- this is personification. Now, you and I know that
Dolls dont really get up and move so this symbolized how creepy the dolls were. Also it
symbolizes oddity.
6. Metaphor- While describing his sister Bruno also mentions Gretchens friend. Then he uses a
metaphor to compare Gretchens friend to a monster. They included this metaphor to show how
aggressive and ugly Gretchens friend could be. They then backed up Bruno by mentioning how
the monster loved to tease Bruno and call him younger than he was. Without this metaphor, you
wouldnt understand how bad Bruno is treated by his sisters friend or how he feels towards her.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Yr9 English Essay - The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

(awarded 14.5/15)

Question: Analyse the ways in which John Boyne has

constructed a sophisticated and meaningful novel.

In order to construct a sophisticated and meaningful novel, as

John Boyne has done, much technique, skill and thought is
required. In his novel The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
sophistication and meaning is created through: the key issues and
concerns which arise such as family relationships, anti-semitism
and friendship; the representation of characters and their
development including those of Bruno and Shmuel, Pavel and
Maria; and the use of symbolism of innocence, fences and clothes
and the style of writing and other language techniques he utilises
such as imagery.

In The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, the exploration of many ideas

makes it sophisticated and meaningful. An instance where the
novel exploits family relationships is when the realisation of
staying at awful Out-with dawns upon Bruno. Immediately, he
believes that Stupid Father has made a terrible mistake (p.59).
This brief moment of indignation acknowledges the clear distance
in their relationship; due to Brunos naivety in relation to the
motives behind the familys move, and his parents decision in
elaborating no further on the issue, influencing this. As well as
being possibly perceived as a form of protection, there is also a
danger in Mother and Father leaving him in the dark.

Another major theme is anti-semitism, upon which the entire novel

is founded. The obvious authority of one group over the other and
the existence of the Commandant, The Fury (the Fuhrer) and
the soldiers that shouted and lunged (p.37) are the
consequence of this. It is the prejudice and hatred for the Jews or
the people from the other side of the fence (p.205) which allows
the extremities of the Nazis contriving to efface the absolute race,
the event of which is known as the Holocaust, to be reached.
Through Boynes addressing of the concept of anti-semitism, a
powerful moral lesson is communicated. In order to prevent such
occurrences to take place on the future, Boyne is subtly, yet
powerfully arguing that we must be discerning and critical and not
just consent with the majority.

The unmistakeable bond that develops between Shmuel and

Bruno is also a primary notion in the novel. They discover that
they are not so different from each other despite Bruno being told
you have nothing whatsoever in common with them (p.53). In
fact they share the same birthday and find it is difficult to tell them
apart (p.204) when Bruno pretends to be a Jew. This affirms the
idea that they are not at all dissimilar; it is society which enforces
the idea upon them. Although their friendship is forbidden, Bruno
perseveres in visiting his friend and it endures to the end when he
holds Shmuels hand and nothing in the world would have
persuaded him to let it go (p.213). Their tight friendship is built by
Bruno going out to explore and experience himself what a Jew is
like rather than accepting that theyre not people at all(p. 53).
This encourages audiences to discourage prejudice as it may be
misleading or false, and to be their own judge through experience.
It also suggests that it is important to have close friendships,
especially if confronted with difficult situations. Boynes
construction of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is both
sophisticated and meaningful as a result of the complexity and
relevance the underlying messages of: the importance of good
family relationships; lessons learnt from the aftermath of anti-
semitism; and how essential it is to maintain intimate friendships,
conveyed have affected todays society.

Boyne has also created sophistication and meaning through the

characterisation of Bruno, aided by Boynes detailed description
of his character and his recorded speech and thoughts. How the
main character, Bruno, is characterised is compared similarly and
contrasted with how Shmuel, his friend, is characterised. They are
exactly the same age yet the former is nowhere near as skinny
nor quite so pale (p.204). They were two very different people
yet similar at the same time. The comparison refers to the world
today: it is realistic. Boyne declares through this that it is our
similarities that bring us together and our individuality that adds
interest to relationships. Although we may be alike to someone in
some ways, we are all unlike when taking into consideration the
different experiences people have undergone in different places
and how that has shaped who they are as a person and their
appearance. In saying this, however, he is also stating that we
can all learn to love each other, to love our neighbours if we
embrace and accept each others differences instead of shunning
people for them.
The creation of characters, Pavel and Maria, allows insight into
the servants treatment during World War II, in particular, the
Holocaust. Maria says, Its not important what I think (p.58)
because the servants could not voice their opinion. They had to
follow the masters directly and without complaint, and as Gretel
says about Maria, Because shes the maid and thats what shes
here for.(p.63). It also shows that people were forced to abandon
their occupations to become servants, just as Pavel says, Before
I came here [Out-with], I practised as a doctor (p.83). How Maria
and Pavel were characterised unequivocally and accurately
mirrored the behaviour of servants working for the Nazis, through
their submission for fear of repercussions from derailing from
what they were supposed to do, which add value through the
truthfulness of the information. The deft integration of historical
matters throughout the novel illustrates a high level of
sophistication and the information gleaned from these facts
creates meaning.

The evolving of characters definitely plays a role in making The

Boy in the Striped Pyjamas meaningful and sophisticated. The
change in characters causes the family to be crushed like Father
crushed Jewish families. Having moved to Out-with, gradually
everyone begins to realise how horrible and nasty it is and so
decide on moving back to Berlin. By the time Nothing more was
ever heard of Bruno (p.214) the family is asunder. Boyne is
justifying through this process that people who are unjust will be
chastised. It also creates a sense of relief and reassurance that
no immorality will flee unpunished and a sense of triumph that the
antagonist suffers for his actions just as Brunos family and
especially Father suffers from the loss of Bruno who, in this case,
acts as a sacrifice for the crimes Father commits. The
representation of characters in Boynes novel are reflective of
situations valid in history as well as todays society; and the
transformations some characters experience themselves are what
makes Boynes The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas meaningful and

As one of the many sophisticated and meaningful novels that has

a unique style of writing, uses symbolism and complex language,
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is incorporated with many
examples of these techniques. Boynes novel, a third person
narrative from the point of view of Bruno, is written in a child-like,
artless tone, which, as well as emphasising Brunos nine-year-old
perspective and lack of understanding, allows the Holocaust to be
alluded to in a way that enables it to be completely unravelled
before us. It is through the eyes of a nine-year-old who knows
nothing of the Final Solution and the Holocaust and is oblivious
to the appalling cruelties being inflicted on the people of Europe
by his country that we are able to surely unveil the ghastly terrors
of this event as it is imperative that he becomes friends with
Shmuel in order for him to uncover both sides of the story. The
innocent nature of Bruno is explicit in the novel as he knows not
the meaning of Heil Hitler, the pronunciation nor meaning of
words such as Out-with, not even his fathers very important
job. This stark contrast underlines the undeniable monstrosity of
such an event, thus Boyne stating, We hope you never have to
cross such a fence as the effects of such a severe division are
beyond devastating. Therefore, for any sophisticated and
meaningful novel, the style of writing is crucial in achieving any
authors purpose just as it is crucial in achieving Boynes.

Three examples of symbolism include the symbolism of

innocence, divisions in society and clothes. In the novel, children
are displayed in an honest, child-like manner. With Gretel owning
a large collection of dolls (p.21) and Bruno enjoying exploring,
they both symbolise their innocence. Innocence is further
manifested in the expression Out-with, what Gretel defines as
the name of the house (p.25). This evokes pity and even
perhaps gladness or frustration from audiences as they
empathise with these characters because of how uninformed they
are. Fences are symbolic of separations in society. It is as much
physical as it is figurative in The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. The
fence is described as huge, made of wire and very high (p.31).
These fences are barriers faced by different backgrounds,
cultures and/or religions. Boyne hints to the audience that they
still remain today and following the example of Bruno, break them
down, because all these obstacles only cause greater problems.
Again, this separation is evident in the clothes the Opposite and
the Jews (p.183) wear. The Jews wore the same clothes as
each other, a pair of grey striped pyjamas(p.38) and the Star of
David while the soldiers wore brand-new, starched, freshly
pressed uniforms (p.42-43, 90) with those higher in rank
acquiring many decorations. They are also indicative of vastly
varied degrees in status and power. The clothes label people.
Brunos grandmothers words, You wear the right outfit and you
feel like the person youre pretending to be (p.205) is evidence
that people are judged and categorised for the clothes they wear.
Boyne projects the message that it happens in todays world and
as demonstrated by the novel, this could have potentially
detrimental impacts.

Boyne has also implemented many other language techniques in

order to create meaning and sophistication. For example, his use
of unnecessary capitals provide significance in phrases like, Out
Of Bounds At All Times And No Exceptions(p.39), as it demands
extra attention from the audience because it is unusual and not
what one would call proper punctuation. Irony is used several
times such as when Bruno is increasingly fed up of wearing too
tight clothing when Shmuel and his friends get to wear striped
pyjamas all day long(p.151-152), stressing his unconsciousness
of what the purpose of the pyjamas was. The imagery conjured up
through the practice of: similes, with eyes the colour of caramel
sweets, clarifying the imagined visual image and its connotations
by connection with other subjects; metaphors, he seemed to face
the danger of toppling over, accentuating through the careful
articulation of the action or subject being described and again,
boosting the vividness of the pictured image; and symbols
(above) also successfully create sophistication and meaning. In
this way, Boynes novel is sophisticated and meaningful due to
the appropriateness and effectiveness of his style of writing, the
sophistication the techniques bring to the novel and the meanings
they deliver which are integral to learning from the mistakes of the

In conclusion, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is a sophisticated

and meaningful novel not only because of the motivations behind
the writing but also in the way in which these ideas are presented.
It is both these elements which are equally vital in creating a
sophisticated and meaningful novel in which Boynes construction
of his novel has included and well-executed. His concepts of
family relationships, anti-semitism and friendship are profoundly
clear; the characters representation and their development is
clever; the language tools such as symbolism with which he uses
to construct the novel are effective; and above all, the life-
changing messages that audiences take with them long after
reading the novel, are what makes this novel successful and
worth reading. It is therefore fair to deduce that John Boynes
novel, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is sophisticated and
meaningful for these reasons.
at 14:46



Dear Papa,
Im scared because I dont know where you are. You have just disappeared
and Im very worried. Anyways, I didnt tell you before because I thought you
would get angry, but I have met a new friend. Actually, he is my best friend.
My best friend for life. Everyday, I go to the end of the fence, the one which
you say separates us from the bad people. Well on the other side of this fence
I found another boy who is nine, just like me, and is even born on the same
day as me! His name is Bruno, but Ive never heard of anyone called like him.
How about you? Anyways, this boy looks different than me. He is fatter and he
has a lot of hair. Also he says that he comes from Berlin. Bruno is very
curious, and he wants to become an explorer when he grows up. He is a very
sweet and caring boy, as he brings me food all the time. Sometimes I think he
is quite naive, because he doesnt understand much about my side of the
fence. He thinks that it is fun as there are a lot of people, but he doesnt know
that we fight a lot over here, and sometimes people disappear and never
come back. Anyways I really like this boy, and I am soon going to tell him that
we cant find you.
Lots of love,

Gretel is Bruno's twelve-year-old sister who loves to play with dolls and
rearrange them on her shelf. Gretel is very rude, sarcastic and bossy,
especially to her brother Bruno. She tries to act more maturely than she
actually is which annoys her brother very much. He calls herHopeless Case.
Gretel always follows the rules and believes almost everything anyone tells
her. She doesn't have any friends at Out-With so she spends her time talking
with Lieutenant Kotler .

Bruno's Father
Ralph is a proud man who the Fuhrer has confided with an important job and
his wholly committed to the task. He is a good father and has a lot of kindness
in his soul, which makes people wonder how he can do the things he do. He
sometimes displays the childlike need to show off and be accepted.
Bruno's Mother
Brunos mother is a minor character in this novel. She loves her children, and
her husband despite the fact that she doesnt really like respect his job. Also
its quite obvious that she doesnt agree with the cruelty. Before moving to
Poland, she says something that really stood out to me. We dont have the
luxury of thinking. I think this quote is very strong. With this sentence the
Mother is showing that she had no choice in this sudden decision of moving.
The Father obliged all the family to move, and did not leave any space for
their own opinions. This shows how much difference of power there is
between the Father and the Mother. This quote reflects also to the theme of
obedience and conformity. This applies to Brunos family but also to the
people who lived during the Holocaust. It shows what kind of power people
were dealing with during that time. Nazi soldiers did not tolerate defiance. For
example, if Jews failed to obey commands or did anything unpleasing as
considered by the Nazi soldiers, it would result in severe punishment.
Sometimes, the punishment would be bad enough to the point where one has
to be killed. People had no choice but to do as they were told; there were no
Lieutenant Kotler
Lieutenant Kotler is an important symbol of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas,
as he represents all the Nazi soldiers. He is a perfect German soldier,
both physically and mentally. Lieutenant Kotler is a lieutenant in the Nazi
Army who spends a great deal of time with the Hoess Family. He is 19 years
old and very boastful. Lieutenant Kotler enjoys talking with Gretel and he is
greatly disliked by Bruno. The was he treats Pavel is an example of how he
treats the rest of the people at the Concentration Camps, people he considers
inferiors. He is also a symbol of how no one was safe during the Holocaust.
Everyone might have a hidden past, just like Kotler had with his father.

Pavel is the cook of the Hoess family and he is a Jew sent everyday to work
from the Concentration Camp. He is a symbol of all the other Jewish people in
the Concentration Camps, and how much they suffered. You can see by his
attitude that he is very patient, as he doesnt treat Brunos family
disrespectfully. I thought. Kotlers behaviour towards him was disgusting, not
only because of the age difference, but also because it showed violent and
unthoughtful some people were during that time



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