The Boy in the Striped Pajamas: Never Again, Never Again

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On 5 January 2006 the book was published in Ireland. In both 2007 and 2008 it was the best selling book of the year in Spain, and it reached the top of the New York Times bestseller list. On 14 November 2008 the movie was released in the USA, and it shared the 2008 Chicago International Film Festival Audience Choice Award with Slumdog Millionaire. On 10 March 2009 the DVD was released in the USA. In the story, and during WWII, Bruno met a new friend, Shmuel. I hope you take the time soon, to read the book and see the movie.

Some Of What We Find...

An eight-year-old boy named Bruno who, because of his father's job, moves from a home in Berlin to the countryside. Bruno initially dislikes the new house as he has to stay in the house or the garden and there are no other children to play with, other than his sister. From his bedroom window, Bruno spots a barbed wire fence with people in "striped pajamas" behind it. He thinks it is a farm. Bruno is not allowed to go there, because "they're not really people." He agrees that at least they are a bit weird, as demonstrated by their clothing.

Bruno goes there anyway, secretly, and becomes friends with a boy, named Shmuel, whom he meets at the fence, and who is of the same age. Shmuel tells Bruno that he is he is hungry. Bruno brings Shmuel food and plays checkers with him through the fence.

The story ends with Bruno about to return to the family's old home in Berlin. As a final adventure, Bruno agrees to help Shmuel with a quest. "...Despite the chaos that followed, Bruno found that he was still holding Shmuel's hand in his own and nothing in the world would have persuaded him to let go".



A Final Thought Or Two

There has been some discussion regarding the story's depiction of life during those times. Even its very premise - that anyone would find a child of Shmuel's age, there, then - is, according to the critics, an unacceptable fabrication that does not reflect the reality of life as it was then.

Those who lived during that era might well so argue.

I suggest the generation that follow need at times be reminded of that which they have no first had memories. If a fabrication of this sort is needed to remind us of the visceral meaning of "Never Again, Never Again..." so be it.

The book and the movie explore important real-life themes, such as experiences that gradually end an innocent perspective, the essence of friendship, acts of humanity even under horrific circumstances, the uses and abuses of obedience and conformity, and the development of prejudice and its destructive consequences.

--- Regards, Walt Schmidt