The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

Starring: Vera Farmiga, Jack Scanlon, David Thewlis, Cara Horgan, Rupert Friend

Directed by: Mark Herman

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is a 2006 novel by John Boyne. This is the first Boyne book written for children.

Unlike the months of planning Boyne had for his other books, he said that he wrote the entire first draft of Boy in two and a half days, barely sleeping until he got to the end.

This book is a story about a nine year old boy struggling to understand what is happening around him in Auschwitz during World War II.

The main character, a nine year-old boy, is the son of a commander near Jewish concentration camps. He has a strong headed sister, Gretel (the Hopeless Case). They live in a five storey mansion, but are one day suddenly moved to a place called Out-with (Auschwitz). Bruno, the boy, outraged by his father's decision to move to Out-with, and desperate to go home, spends his time in his room with no friends. He is also annoyed by the fact that they live in a three storey house instead of their old five-storey mansion, and with such a small space, there isn't any room for exploration (apparently a hobby of Bruno's) to be done. He also misses sliding down the banister in their old house.

In Bruno's bedroom, he spots a fence with people in striped pyjamas behind it from his window. These are the Jews, and they are in a concentration camp. One day his parents come to an agreement that both Bruno and Gretel (his sister) need a tutor for their education so they hire Herr Liszt. To Bruno, Herr Liszt is the most boring teacher one could ever have - because he teaches science (such as geography and history), instead of the arts, which Bruno prefers. So, in boredom and confusion he wonders what is going on in the Out-with and why people are always dressed in striped pyjamas there.

One afternoon he goes exploring. What he finds is a boy, a Jewish boy called Shmuel, a name Bruno has never heard of before but apparently is quite common among Shmuel's own people. He soon becomes Bruno's friend and Bruno goes to see him every afternoon and they talk. Bruno is told by his sister that the people in the striped pyjamas on the other side of the fence are Jews and that he and his family are "the opposite". Shortly after this, Bruno gets a bad case of lice and has to have his head shaved. This makes him look a lot more like his friend Shmuel and he finds himself thinking that it's as if "they weren't all that different, really."

The story ends with Bruno about to leave Out-with and return to his previous home with his mother and sister. As a final adventure, he agrees to dress in a set of striped pyjamas and climb under a loose wire in the fence to help Shmuel find his father who has gone missing in the camp. They do not accomplish this task, and just as it starts to rain and Bruno decides he would like to go home, the people in the area of the camp which the boys are in must go on a 'march'. Neither boy knows where this march will lead. However, they are crowded into an airtight house, where chaos insues.

The book ends with the effects of Bruno's disappearance on his family, and his Father discovering his clothes outside of the fence, while inferring what happened to his son.

A Miramax film adaptation of the novel shot in Budapest between April and June 2007. It stars David Thewlis, Vera Farmiga, Sheila Hancock and Rupert Friend.

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