The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

[Cover] The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne

“The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas” is a best selling book written by John Boyne. Set in 1942 in Nazi Germany, it tells the story of a nine year-old boy Bruno whose father is a Military Commandant, and with that, the family moves from Berlin to Out-With, Poland and lives in a house just beside a concentration camp.

Bruno,being the main protagonist of the book, appears to be a very adventurous and curious nine year-old boy. He is originally from Berlin, but moves to “Out-With” (in Poland), due to his father’s job as a Military Commandant. Out-With is far from safe for Bruno, as they live just by a concentration camp of imprisoned Jews. However, as an innocent young boy, Bruno is not able to understand the situation at Out-With, not even knowing about the war that is going on, and continues to be curious about the people living in the concentration camp observable from the window of his room. Although Bruno and his family have moved to such a desolated place, Bruno’s strong passion for discovering new things continues to be displayed, although Herr Liszt, Bruno’s tutor, wants him to be less adventurous and to focus more into schoolwork. He often feels lonely, but gets along with Maria, the housemaid, who is very quiet and admires Bruno’s father as a commandant. One day, he meets Shmuel, a Jewish boy within the fences of the concentration camp, who then becomes Bruno’s first best friend in Out-With, but still has no idea why Shmuel and many others are being put inside such fenced area.

Bruno has a big sister named Gretel, a twelve-year-old who he refers to as a ‘Hopeless Case’ who always takes interest in everyone’s business, especially their father’s. Because Bruno is such a tiny boy for his age, Gretel treats him as if he is six and often bullies him with her friends back in Berlin. She does not spend time with Bruno, and this results to Bruno feeling very lonely and bored most of the time. She is that kind of sister who makes sure that she is always in charge and that Bruno does whatever she orders him to do.  She always plays with her dolls, however her crush on Lieutenant Kotler, a very strict eighteen-year-old Nazi soldier, turns her into a girl who shows much interest on the Nazi doctrine and ideology.

Bruno’s father is seen as a very strict and busy man who is almost always doing work, wearing his uniform almost all the time. As a top Nazi soldier, a Military Commandant, he appears to be very proud of his occupation that serves the country. Although he doesn’t spend much time with his family, he is quite a loving father when he does spend time with them once in a while. However, he turns into such a hateful and violent man, which Bruno’s mother, Elsa, wonders about. She appears to be the type of mother who tries to keep things that are going on hidden from her children. She does not share the same Nazi beliefs of her husband and is very furious with the fact that her husband is a Commandant of such disgraceful activities when she finds out what is going on next door, but is too afraid to speak out.

Bruno meets Shmuel on one of his adventures. The Polish Jew, the prisoner who is about the same age as Bruno, is seen sitting right behind the fence of the concentration camp, wearing his striped pyjamas. Shmuel is a timid boy. He and Bruno share commonalities, which helps drive themselves closer to each other. When it comes to war, Shmuel is far more experienced than naïve Bruno, as he himself has been captured and taken away from his mother and siblings. However, Shmuel is still not aware of his whereabouts and what he is doing in the concentration camp, but it is clear of its impact on Shmuel as it turns such a young boy into an adult. His unawareness is inferable. He isn’t able to find his father and has no idea on what “trips” people go on.

What I found most interesting in the book “The Boy in The Striped Pajamas” was how the author manages to demonstrate how innocence can be destroyed by war, ambition, and greed. This book is written in an innocent nine year-old boy’s point of view on the Holocaust, which at the same time gives readers a story about what happened in World War Two. Surely, in times of war, children as young as Bruno are not aware of what is happening around them, and might as well be mislead into believing something. One example, in Bruno’s case, is how Bruno goes inside the concentration camp, hoping that there would be children he could play with when Shmuel tells him that there are children in the camp. This itself led to both Bruno and Shmuel’s death in the gas chambers as Bruno gets mistaken for one of the Jews.

Bruno’s death is mainly caused by the lack of communication with his father and the rest of his family. In my opinion, the father is to be the first to blame for Bruno’s death. Without having to move in such a desolate place just by a concentration camp, Bruno wouldn’t be so curious and get himself into such trouble. The father could’ve at least lived by himself or move the family somewhere further from the concentration camp. It is such a terrible way for him to die, but in my opinion, it is probably the only way for his father to finally see that what they have been killing were real people, as he said “They’re not people at all, Bruno” in the first parts of the book. Honestly, it has never crossed my mind how a child’s innocence could be destroyed by the worst of his surroundings. However, this book proved to me how cases like Bruno’s could be happening anytime and anywhere, especially in times of war, or even when racial prejudice is occurring in that child’s surroundings.

Children would continue to be curious, to explore, and also to discover. If I were Bruno, I would probably be as curious as he is. Imagine returning home from school one day and discovering our belongings being packed, and that our family has to move far away from home and leaving friends behind, to somewhere so desolate, where there is no one to play with. As a child like Bruno, I would also be exploring the new environment with hope to find something interesting. I would even go check on the concentration camp due to my curiosity now that Bruno’s father wouldn’t give him the answer he would understand or was looking for.

Reading this book has made me reflect on myself and my relationship with my family. I believe that there is a need to develop a healthier and finer relationship with them, and also to realize the importance of communication within a relationship. I feel fortunate to be living in a period where I wouldn’t have to experience such war and racial prejudice. I really enjoyed this book, and I believe it gives strong morals to readers while giving out relevant information about the Holocaust, the Nazi doctrine, and its inside stories.


Vivisection Should Be Banned Due to the Violation of Animal Rights and Hindrance to Scientific Progress

Vivisection, otherwise known as animal experimentation, have been ethically argued against ever since many, many years ago. This practice requires painful procedures that cause severe suffering of animals for drug testing in order to find treatments, prevention, and cures for human diseases. However, it has been observed that these experiments are also being conducted in order to enable the drug companies to release newer products in markets. In some cases, vivisection is also used for the testing of cosmetics and household reagents that serve commercial needs. Due to that situation, vivisection has no longer become a part of science.

I strongly believe that the harming of a specie for the benefit of others is immoral, thus vivisection should be banned due to the violation of animal rights. Animals would continue to suffer with no valuable results to human beings, since, proven by non-animal researches, no animal models are a match for the human body. The end of vivisection does not mean the end of medical progress. Other medical researches not involving animal testing would still go on in order to study further medical information regarding the human body, which cannot be tested on animals.

More than half of the doctors agree that the experiments conducted with animals have been misleading. They have also proven the anatomical and physiological differences between animals and humans. According to Dr. Werner Hartinger, vivisection is a “hindrance to scientific progress”. I consider his words to be true. The lack of resources for future use is due to the animal researches that leaves other medical issues unexplored. A lot of medical matters have to be studied without the action of animal experimentation. For example, the discovery of the connetion between cholesterol and heart diseases, and also the danger of smoking that could lead to cancer.

In my opinion, vivisection has become wasteful and unnecessary as it is happening repetitively. No one knows for sure of the exact amount of animals used as some animals are not reported for the research unless the result of the experiment is published, but it was estimated that approximately 17 to 100 million animals are used in vivisection every year in the United States. These animals suffer and die in laboraties as they are filled with complete helplessness without knowing any way to defend themselves. Due to the torture they’re given, they have stressful and uneasy lives. My point is, right now, animal rights are being taken away so easily by humans. Thus, we should realize the inhumanity in the repetition of animal testing when we have enough of what we need to do treatment.

Animals are not the only victims of this practice. We too are in danger. Animal experimentation is one simple way to sell dangerous products. In other words, any product from animal testing may harm us due to false results of experiments on a species that are both anatomically and physiologically different from us. Moreover, patients would continuously suffer more side effects if drugs were to remain tested in animals. I don’t think vivisectors have found any patient whose life is actually saved by their practice itself. I would prefer testing them more extensively on human cells and tissues.

On the other hand, supporters of vivisection find animal testing as something beneficial. They believe that it reduces human experimentation, saves lives, and are faster to do. There are only a few number of people in this world who are willing to risk their lives and participate in these experiments. Furthermore, they believe that the testing of drugs and other chemicals would help vivisectors observe effects in animals, providing higher quality of medicine. And because of the short lifespan in animals, experiments on them could possibly be done in a faster rate, making it easier to observe different stages in a short period of time.

However, in my opinion, vivisection today defeats the purpose of saving human lives as it is now used for other means besides medical progress. Animals do have shorter lifespans when compared to humans which allows them to easily observe effects, but it’s fair to say that results are rarely accurate. Since no animals are compatible to humans, vivisectors cannot be certain that vivisection is the only way they can get concrete results of what they’re looking for. They have conducted too many experiments which proved to be unsuccesful, therefore they should not continue this practice.

I know no achievements made through vivisection. This cruelty must be put to an end. It has been wasteful and unnecessary now that it had been done over and over with no valuable or accurate results. In fact, it leaves other medical matters unexplored. Vivisection is not only morally unacceptable, but also scientifically invalid. Hence, it should be abolished on account of the violation of animal rights and hindrance to scientific progress.


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Huebsch, Russell. “Human Benefits of Animal Testing.” EHow. Demand Media, 22 Oct. 2009. Web. 16 Aug. 2013.
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“Vivisection.” Vivisection. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Aug. 2013.
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Monamy, Vaughan. Animal Experimentation: A Guide to the Issues. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge UP, 2000. Print.
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The Little Governess

With tears streaming down her face, the hysterical little governess turned and came in contact again with the old, pedophilic man. He was smirking with his head lowered a little as his green eyes showed iciness which she hoped she had never seen again. Grinning maniacally, the wrinkles under his eyes became more visible and the innocent old man she used to know was no longer present, instead he was replaced by a hungry predator. His hair was disheveled and she could tell that he had been running. By this time, she had begun to question how fast she could run.

Terrified, she asked him, “Wh-what are you doing here? A-and why?”

“Why did you run away, young lady? I was just trying to get a kiss from you. Do you not like it, Little Governess?”, the man answered while smirking, looking at her straight into the eye.

As she trembled with fear, the old man stroked her soft, strawberry blonde hair with his wrinkled, bony right hand. His hand closely resembled those of the hand of a child that has been in the water for too long, and that itself disgusted her to no end. She could do nothing but feel the cold shiver running down her spine. She took a deep breath with her eyes looking down to the tip of her toes and knew the old man had won. Thinking of how she should not have joined him and fallen for his act of innocence, she felt betrayed.

The man grabbed her pale, elegant, shivering hands and felt the iciness in the tip of her frozen fingers. As he pulled it, she began to have an idea of what the man was going to do to her. She knew she had to come along with him; she was afraid of rejecting. With fright, she walked and followed him outside of the hotel. As they reached the sidewalk before the hotel, the Little Governess saw an old, blue car parking in front of them, and there the man grabbed her shoulders and pushed her against it.

He unpredictably reached out for her long, skeleton-like thighs when she was at the point of an outcry. It was scandalous to the Little Governess when she felt the tip of the predator’s craggy fingers touching her thighs, and with that she automatically screamed in fright and shame. That one deafening scream from the Little Governess signaled the police officers standing by the traffic light. The old man’s eyes widened and slightly pulled back both his hands to his side with panic as the police officers turned and stared at the old man with viciousness. The Little Governess’s shivering had stopped and she tilted her head up just as she realized that the old man’s nauseating, wrinkly fingers were no longer touching her.

He took a step away from the petrified Little Governess, trying to pretend as if nothing had happened between them both. The one malicious stare from the police officer caused the old man to walk away from where the Little Governess was standing. As he slowly walked away, the Little Governess could not get her eyes off of the old man, thinking of how foolish she could be to ever trust him, the hungry predator who she knew was craving for her body.