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Points of view

The historian has to explore as many views of a particular event or subject as possible before making his or her own judgment. A novelist may also choose to present different points of view in a narrative.

Think about the film The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, and answer the following:

  1. Do we see everything through the eyes of Bruno, or are other “points of view” shown in the film? How does this affect our understanding of what is happening in the story?
  2. Quite often in a film we are asked to sympathise with one character. Is that the case in this film? Who do your sympathies lie with?
  3. How do the characters of Bruno’s mother and grandmother help to give us different perspectives on what is happening?
  4. Think about the subject of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. Is the main subject the Holocaust, or is it a film about friendship and innocence?
  5. Do you believe that Bruno could be so innocent of what is happening in the camp and Schmuel’s life as a concentration camp inmate?
  6. How are we shown Bruno’s father protecting him from the truth about his work?

John Boyne explains what the characters in his novel represent (Transcript)

John Boyne explains what the characters in his novel represent:

"The characters in the novel each represent certain things, now Bruno’s older sister Gretel is very important in the book. She starts both the novel and the film as a very girly type of character, she plays with dolls, that’s all she’s really interested in and as the story progresses when she’s in this house, when she’s interacting with her father’s soldiers, she starts to change and those dolls come down and the maps go up and she starts to follow the routes of the armies across Europe and this is for no other reason other than the fact she has a crush on Lieutenant Kotler. So she’s representing that idea of a normal person who just gets swept up in this brainwashing cult effect and changes into a Nazi. Bruno’s grandmother on the other hand represents those German people at the time who stood up and were opposed to National Socialism, to Hitler and whose voices were heard for a time but were then silenced of course and grandmother is silenced. His grandfather on the other hand is the survivor from World War I who believes that Germany has been badly dealt with at Versailles. So each of these characters are playing certain roles as a metaphor I suppose for a type of person that existed at the time. And Bruno, he’s the bystander, he’s the witness to what’s going on without really understanding it, he’s the one who goes to the fence every day, looks across and wants to know what’s happening there. And I suppose for readers coming to this book or to the film, when it reaches its climax, you’re left to wonder, had things ended differently, what would happen to Bruno, would he become like his grandmother, or would he become like his father and you might like to think he’d become like his grandmother but it’s possibly more likely that he’d become like his father."