Discuss the ways in which John Boyne engages the reader’s interest in The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas?
John Boyne, the author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, effectively engages the reader’s interest through a variety of literary techniques. Irony is one of the most significant techniques that reinforces the absurdity of the Holocaust as a Nazi commandant has inadvertently killed his son in a gas chamber. Readers are also engrossed by the narrative point of view of a nine-year old child, which reveals how childhood innocence is overwhelmed in a world of adult concept of racism and the devastating impact it has on society. The innocence of a young child sets off the futility of the Holocaust and anti-Semitism through the use of irony and narrative viewpoint.
The use of irony engages the readers and enables an understanding of the senselessness of the Holocaust, as it conveys the devastating consequences of racism in humanity. Bruno’s father, a jingoistic Nazi Commandant, has convinced himself that, “[Jews] are not people at all.” He intends to inflict his racist views on his innocent son and teach him to embrace anti-Semitic beliefs as he ironically tells his son he has “nothing whatsoever in common with [Jews].” His racial discrimination towards Jews contradicts the fact that his own son’s “best friend for life” is a Jewish boy who is identical to his own son. Bruno and Shmuel seem to lead parallel lives; they share the same birthday, common interests and a similar perspective on life. Boyne uses this to have readers deeply consider the incomprehensibility of The Holocaust itself, because of the idea that people are fundamentally identical, regardless of race, is made clearly evident. When Bruno and Shmuel die together at the merciless hands of the Nazis, the father’s realisation that he has inadvertently killed his own son shows the irony of the situation as he experiences the same grief as Shmuel’s father. Therefore, irony creates an interest for the reader as it plays a significant role in conveying the idea that anti-Semitism is an absurd and senseless ideology, causing devastation to both Germans and Jews alike.
The narrative point of view of a nine-year-old boy engages the readers as it reinforces the irony of racially prejudiced society juxtaposed to the theme of childhood innocence. Through the narration of limited...