The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.
Sonal, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur
There are some movies that you know are good but their names may always push you to their substitutes. “The Boy in Striped Pajamas” was one of such movies for me. But when I actually started watching it, I was stuck to the screen. The movie had explored something unique. How an innocent sees and feels about one of the world’s most horrendous crimes and how he is destroyed by it, this feeling will surely make an impact on you and it would be too difficult to shake off. The movie is explained particularly from the eyes of Bruno, an eight-year son of a Nazi general. The horrendous crime which I referred to is obviously the holocaust. Bruno is very curious in nature and is scared of changes. He loves his family and relishes the company of his friends. He is very kind and is very open to making new friends. He has a big sister who keeps pulling his leg but at the same time is always there to shower him with her motherly care. In short, Bruno is much like the most of the eight year children that you could remember of.
The story takes Bruno to a new home when his father is promoted and has to take charge of a Jew concentration camp. In his curiosity to meet new friends, Bruno stumbles to the electrified boundary of the camp where he meets Leon, who is a child prisoner in the camp. Innocent Bruno thinks that the prisoners enjoy their stay in the camp and after sneaking a peek into one of his father’s video aided meeting even believes that the camp has a cafeteria, play fields and other enjoyments in store. But the fence separates his world and the horror that his father was helping to shepherd in the camp. The high voltage electricity in the fence didn’t scare Bruno as much as the fear of losing his friend. Every day he used to bring Leon, food to eat, games to play and they used to talk about their worlds. But Bruno was confused. He didn’t understand why some servants in his home had to wear striped pajamas and why Leon never wore anything else. He was puzzled with his mother’s frustration about his father’s job. He was also disturbed when one of the older servants never returned to work after he spilled some wine at the dinner table. Thankfully Leon was there to calm him and when he used to meet his friend at the opposite side of the fence, he could set aside all the confusion and sadness and think what any happy child deserves to think and imagine about. Towards the end of the movie Bruno’s father decides to send away the family to a home located in a safer environment. Bruno at the same time learns about disappearance of Leon’s father in the camp. As a last help for his friend, Bruno packs a big sandwich, picks up a shovel and goes ahead to help Leon find his father. He digs a hole under the fence, creeps in and dons the striped pajamas so that he is not spotted in the prison. After poking around sometime they both got pushed with the prisoner crowd in a strong room. The strong room was where the prisoners used to be gassed to death.
In my opinion the “boy in striped pajama” could refer to both Leon and Bruno. The story is the potent proof of the fact that how easily people in their frantic will to impose their faith, trample fiercely, human rights as basic as a child’s right to his innocence.