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Solera, Tommy Jeack E.

July 31, 2019

ARC151 Prof. Acomular


The Boy in the Striped Pajamas will hit you without a warning. I believe innocence that created by a
sheltered and caring family is an important theme that this movie portrayed. Bruno was unaware that
his father was a Nazi commander or that he is living right next door to Auschwitz concentration camp.
His parents were trying to protect him from hearing the truth or understanding the reality of what was
happening outside his window. This shows that the innocence of a protected childhood results in a
misunderstood reality. Since, this movie is in line with the history of Nazis, I’ll be more focused on
why the movie ended that way.
The Antisemitism of Adolf Hitler, way back to his regime, led the Nazis to become more dominant of
Europe. His beliefs and ideology became so powerful that even his fellows believed that those
actually could work and true. The racial and ethnic tensions (which were the Nazis between the Jews)
can blatantly seen in the entire movie.
Jews as the Scapegoat for a Lost War
The German defeat was hard to swallow for many Germans, and for Hitler, too. In nationalist and
right-wing conservative circles, the ‘stab-in-the-back legend’ became popular. According to this
myth, Germany did not lose the war on the battlefield, but through betrayal at the home front. The
Jews, Social Democrats, and Communists were held responsible.
As early as August 1920, Hitler compared the Jews to germs. He stated that diseases cannot be
controlled unless you destroy their causes. The influence of the Jews would never disappear without
removing its cause, the Jew, from our midst, he said. These radical ideas paved the way for the mass
murder of the Jews in the 1940s.
Bruno and Shmuel – The Racial and Ethnic Differences
The symbol both the character portrayed are fascinating. For much of the story, the striped pajamas
are a reminder of the differences between Bruno and Shmuel's lives differences that can ultimately be
traced to Shmuel's Jewish identity and the Nazis' gross injustices against him and his people. His
clothes are a visible reminder that he and everyone around him is imprisoned, taken from their homes
and forced into a terrible situation they have little power to escape. When Bruno asks Shmuel why
everyone on his side of the fence wears the pajamas he replies:
"That's what they gave us when we got here… they took away our other clothes.”
Clothes are a mode of self-expression, a means of letting the world know who we are. Taking people's
clothes and forcing them into tattered uniforms is a way of attacking their individual identities, it
literally strips them of the ability to share who they are visually. The Nazis, of course, had other ways
of controlling their prisoners, but the striped pajamas are one that Bruno, at the age of eight,
recognizes as different. It's a clue to him that something is off on the other side of the fence, even if he
can't quite grasp what it is.
The striped pajamas in the movie signal more than just the death of self-expression and individual
identity, they represent death itself. And friendship. After all, Bruno puts a pair on and sneaks to the
other side to help Shmuel look for his father, an act of true love and support. In doing so, though, he
loses his own individual identity, and is seen by the soldiers as one of the imprisoned masses, which is
how he finds himself standing in the gas chamber holding hands with his friend.
We may never wear striped pajamas again…