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Boy In The Striped Pyjamas Essay Questions

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas - Differences Between Novel and Film

651 WordsApr 4th, 20133 Pages

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne
[Film directed by Mark Herman]
Discuss the changes that take place between the novel and the film, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, and the impact they have on you.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is a novel by John Boyne that has recently been turned into a film. It tells the story of a young German boy (Bruno), and a Jewish boy (Shmuel)’s “forbidden” friendship. Bruno, located on the opposite side of a huge barbed-wire fence that guards the concentration camp where Shmuel is confined, has never had a friend he can’t play with. Throughout the novel, their friendship grows and both boys learn very important lessons. When the novel was made into a film, a few things were changed, some were…show more content…

Bruno sees him there and offers him some food. In the book, Shmuel is very reluctant to take the food from Bruno, whereas in the film Shmuel takes the food as soon as he is offered it. In the novel, when Bruno offers Shmuel some chicken, Shmuel says, “I can’t, he’ll [Lieutenant Kotler] come back, I know he will.” The change in the film can be connected to the change in Shmuel’s appearance. Because Shmuel isn’t very skinny in the film, something else needs to show evidence that he is very hungry and desperate for food. This is perfectly shown in the kitchen scene when Shmuel quickly takes the food from Bruno.

Mother’s role is another thing that has been changed in the film. She is much more involved in what Bruno is doing than she is in the book. In the novel, when Bruno sneaks away to visit Shmuel, mother is most likely “… having one of her afternoon naps” or “…having one of her medicinal Sherries.” She does neither of these things in the film and instead keeps a closer eye on Bruno. Mother’s role has been changed so she is a much more likeable character and people viewing the film have some sympathy for her.

A number of differences have been recognised between the novel The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and the film that followed it. Some of these differences include the character’s appearances and ages, their decisions and their involvement in the events that take place. These changes have been made for a number of reasons, mainly to please

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Boy in the Striped Pajamas (Boyne)

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Discussion Questions 
1. Discuss the relationship between Bruno and Gretel. Why does Bruno seem younger than nine? In a traditional fable, characters are usually one-sided. How might Bruno and Gretel be considered one-dimensional?

2. At age 12, Gretel is the proper age for membership in the League of Young Girls, a branch of Hitler's Youth Organization. Why do you think she is not a member, especially since her father is a high-ranking officer in Hitler's army?

3. What is it about the house at Out-With that makes Bruno feel "cold and unsafe"? How is this feeling perpetuated as he encounters people like Pavel, Maria, Lt. Kotler, and Shmuel?

4. Describe his reaction when he first sees the people in the striped pajamas. 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?

5. Bruno asks his father about the people outside their house at Auschwitz.His father answers, "They're not people at all Bruno." (p. 53) Discuss the horror of this attitude. How does his father's statement make Bruno more curious about Out-With?

6. Explain what Bruno's mother means when she says, "We don't have the luxury of thinking." (p. 13) Identify scenes from the novel that Bruno's mother isn't happy about their life at Out-With. Debate whether she is unhappy being away from Berlin, or whether she is angry about her husband's position. How does Bruno's grandmother react to her son's military role?

7. When Bruno and his family board the train for Auschwitz, he notices 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?

8. 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?

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?

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?

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?

12. Discuss the differences in a fable, an allegory, and a proverb. How might this story fit into each genre?
(Questions issued by publisher.)

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