Sunday, November 25, 2007

Anne's BSP Discussion Quesitions for Part Two

6. When Bruno and his family boarded the train for Auschwitz, he noticed an over-crowded train headed in the same direction. How does he later make the connection between Shmuel and that train? How are both trains symbolic of each boy’s final journey?

Shmuel tells Bruno the story of his awful trip to the camp on an overcrowded train with no doors. Shmuel's train ride relates to the crowded march more obviously than Bruno's empty lonely train ride away from Berlin, the only place he's ever lived. Both trains led to the middle of nowhere, a desolate, horrible place, and to the end of their lives.

7. Bruno issues a protest about leaving Berlin. His father responds, “Do you think that I would have made such a success of my life if I hadn’t learned when to argue and when to keep my mouth shut and follow orders?” (p. 49) What question might Bruno’s father ask at the end of the novel?

Perhaps "Would my son still be alive if I had listened to my wife and him or followed my own instincts and disobeyed orders?" or "Would I know what happened to my son if I had argued and not kept my mouth shut?"

8. What does Gretel mean when she says, “Something about the way [Bruno] was watching made her feel suddenly nervous”? (p. 28) How does this statement foreshadow Bruno’s ultimate demise?

Intuition and a vibe in the air from Bruno had Gretel sensing that what she would see outside the window would be bad and they shouldn't be living there. Bruno, perhaps, seemed too interested in the camp beyond the fence for his own good plus Gretel knew that Bruno was partial to exploring.

9. A pun is most often seen as humorous. But, in this novel the narrator uses dark or solemn puns like Out-With and Fury to convey certain meanings. Bruno is simply mispronouncing the real words, but the author is clearly asking the reader to consider a double meaning to these words. Discuss the use of this wordplay as a literary device. What is the narrator trying to convey to the reader? How do these words further communicate the horror of the situation?

I think I understand why the author is doing this as well as why he chooses to portray Bruno as small/young for his age. But I wonder why he didn't just make Bruno a few years younger. I had a hard time swallowing Bruno as he is. That at nine years old, he couldn't pronounce certain words (and didn't know what was going on in the world when his sister only a few years older than him did). The book showed people trying to correct his pronunciation. Instead of the author just using the other words he wanted to make his point, he gave a fairly unbelievable, to me, explanation for why he was doing it. I'd have had an easier time with the book had the author just switched the words for no reason stated in the book other than the author's prerogative.

10. When Bruno dresses in the filthy striped pajamas, he remembers something his grandmother once said. “You wear the right outfit and you feel like the person you’re pretending to be.” (p, 205) How is this true for Bruno? What about his father? What does this statement contribute to the overall meaning of the story?

Bruno feels different once he is wearing the striped pajamas and has enter the camp. The exploring is no longer exciting or fun and he wants to leave. He seems understand a little bit of how Shmuel feels every day. Bruno's father wears a uniform and the power seems to have gone to his head. He puts his aspirations for his career ahead of his love for his family and any values he may have had.

11. Discuss the moral or message of the novel. What new insights and understandings does John Boyne want the reader to gain from reading this story?

The message of the novel seems to be to point out that similar, though on a more minor scale, instances are still occurring today and there are still many things wrongly dividing people but people are ignoring this and choosing not to do anything to change things for the better.

12. Discuss the differences in a fable, an allegory, and a proverb. How might this story fit into each genre?

I looked up these literary terms to better understand the differences between them.

Fable - a short, simple story, usually with animals as characters, designed to teach a moral truth. Such a story often concludes with an epigram containing the moral.

Other than the animals as characters and being short and simple, BSP could fit this definition.

Allegory - an extended metaphor in which a person, abstract idea, or event stands for itself and for something else. It usually involves moral or spiritual concepts which are more significant than the actual narrative.

Bruno is the boy in the novel but also represents innocence among other things and the other characters are representative as well. The novel is also making a moral point. I think this is the term best suited for BSP based on these definitions.

Proverb - a short saying, usually of unknown or ancient origin, that expresses some useful thought, commonplace truth, or moral lesson and is most often expressed in simple, homely language. Sometimes, it is allegorical or symbolic. A proverb is appealing because it is succinct and uses simple rhyme, irony, metaphor, and comparison or contrast.

BSP doesn't really fit this definition of a proverb as it is not a short saying nor it is succinct. But it does express useful thoughts, truths, and a moral lesson. It also contains allegory and symbolism.

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