Sunday, November 18, 2007

Some Additional Thoughts

I finished the book earlier this week and have been thinking a lot about it since. Here are a few thoughts on Bonnie's second set of discussion questions:

9. Some of the Book Buddies have seemed to dislike the use of the puns Out-With and Fury. For me, they are central to the power of the book. (I've commented about this a little already.) In understanding the puns, we recognize the setting of the book - but the use of the puns makes it possible to extrapolate the book's message not only to war settings other than Auschwitz but also - and more significant to me - to other situations in which we put up a fence and put people whom we wish to be "out with" on the other side of the fence or in which our hatred for those different from us creates furious destruction and violence (either literal or figurative). I think Boyne's use of these puns is ingenious!

7 and 10. The striped pajamas put Bruno into the "shoes" of Shmuel. One of the most profound passages from the book comes after Bruno puts on the pajamas and crawls under the fence to the other side (p. 208):
'I don't think I like it here,' said Bruno after a while.
'Neither do I,' said Shmuel.
Bruno's father also wears a costume - one in which he is unable to think for himself and to question the orders he receives.

11 and 12. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas can be read as a simple young adult historical fiction novel, but I think that it is much more. My thesaurus says that fable, allegory, and parable are synonyms, each meaning "a story intended to teach a basic truth or moral about life." To me, that is what this book is. (I can understand the feeling that some Book Buddies have had that calling this story a "fable" is not appropriate, but I think that is only if we view that label as synonymous with "myth" - which is a related but different word, particularly in this context.) It is because the book is a fable that it has great power - power to make us contemplate its message, power to alter our thinking, power to stay with us for a long time.

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