Mar 25, 2010

13) The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

Original Title: The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
Turkish Title: Çizgili Pijamalı Çocuk
English Title: The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
Author: John Boyne
Pages: 205
Rating: 2/5
I read the book because I want to see the movie. The DVD has been sitting on our DVD shelf for more than a year and I was intending to watch it. Then, I saw the book in a bookstore by chance and I decided to give it a try.
The book is written in the voice of a nine year-old boy called Bruno. His father is a Nazi commander, who is highly praised by Hitler. He gets assigned to work as the commander of Auschwitz Concentration Camp in Poland. Bruno and his family moves from Berlin to a house nearby the camp. After his happy days in Berlin, Bruno tries to find a way to get rid of his never ending boredom by making discoveries on his own. He even makes a new friend, Shmuel, a child living in the concentration camp. The new friends start to share their everyday life and get to know each other in their own ways through a fence seperating the camp from the outside world.
I really wanted to like this book but no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t at the end.

At first, I liked the naivety of Bruno and to see the world through his eyes. Then, it got annoying. Bruno was nine but the way he talked and the things he talked about sounded like he was four. I think the author was too obsessed with stressing the simplicity of Bruno.

I was really annoyed by the fact that Bruno was not able to pronounce the key words of his time although he was nine. His father was a really strict top Nazi commander in a concentration camp and Bruno couldn’t pronounce the words “Führer” or “Auschwitz”. Come on... His father is one of the best commanders of Hitler and Bruno doesn’t go to a Nazi school. Come on... These are far from the basic realities of that time.

I liked the way the children respected each other. They knew what to talk about and what not to talk about. They were also great in finding the similarities (!) between their lives. I think the author did a good job in this respect. The final is also really touching.

When it comes to the final message of the author, I think he lost his sense of reality suddenly. He asks “We’re not going to do it again, right?” as if the answer is a clear “No, we are not”. However, we did it again and again and we keep doing it: Think about Kosova, Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Rwanda, Palestine, Sudan... It is still happening!
I can easily say that it is one of that kind of movies that beat the original book. I was a bit annoyed by everyone speaking English instead of German and Polish and the actor choice for the role of Bruno's father. Still, it was a good movie. I liked the opening quote by John Betjeman: "Childhood is measured out by sounds and smells and sights, before the dark hour of reason grows". My favourite scene is Bruno's mother hesitation in taking Pavel for taking care of Bruno after he fell off the swing. My rating for the book was 2/5 but for the film it is 4/5.

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