Tragic ending

There are not many times I reach out for books with tragic endings, but sometimes they spring up on me, like A Fine Balance. I generally skirt around books with tragic endings or even a sad storyline, because, I tend to take those emotions to a whole new level. That’s just me. And this is also the reason why I haven’t been able to see In Pursuit of Happiness, because I don’t seem to be able to handle such situations too well.

I saw The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas way back in college, huddled with a friend till late at night, and while she cried, I was stunned. I hadn’t thought I would ever buy the book by John Boyne, but when my good friend M. did, I did too. What surprised me was the perspective of the author, to see things through the eyes of a child. Or even the ability to see issues and events through their perspective. I mean, they obviously don’t overthink as much as we adults do, or at least as much as I do. They have simpler minds, sometimes bordering on devious, but generally simple with their approach being likewise. And it made for quite a refreshing and easy read, barring the storyline.

The story is set during the Second World War, and the central character is the nine-year-old Bruno who stays with his parents and sister in Berlin. When his father is promoted to a top position by Adolf Hitler, the family move out of their urban dwelling and shift to the ‘Out-With’. Phrases such as the ‘out-with’ and the ‘fury’ gave a sense of childlike thinking, that clearly implied the family were staying near Auschwitz camp and had the Fuhrer over at their place, if we go by the story.

At their new residence, like any child, Bruno goes out exploring and comes upon a wire fence that seems to go on. As he walks on, he chances upon a boy of the same age as his, Shmuel. As they talk, the reader gets bits and pieces of the life in the camp, how Shmuel has been separated from his mother and is now with his grandfather, father and brother. As their bond grows stronger, Bruno develops lice on his head, leading him to get his head shaved as a result. When Shmuel sees him, he comments on how alike they seem. Well, one thing leads to another, but the ending is as horrifying as it may seem.

This post is part of the eighth annual A to Z Challenge that takes place in the month of April. The theme for this month is ‘Between Pages’. It’s my second attempt at this. Feedback is most welcome, constructive criticism, even more. Share your experiences and let’s enjoy this month of fabulous blogging.


3 thoughts on “Tragic ending

  1. You know, I don’t think I’ll ever read this book. I know the storyline very well, I heard talk abotu it, and I really don’t think I can handle it.
    I know it’s a beautiful, thought-provoking story. I’m still not going to read it.

    The Old Shelter – 1940s Film Noir


  2. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas isn’t really highly-regarded by either the Jewish community or the historical fiction community, since it’s extremely historically inaccurate (even worse than Roberto Benigni’s Life Is Beautiful, which also takes many liberties with historical realities but at least seemed to have well-meaning motivations). So many things in that book aren’t just uncommon occurrences we’re given a reason to go along with, but entirely outside the realm of historical plausibility as well. The “puns” on misheard names also make no sense in German.

    As a writer of historical fiction set during the Shoah, it really does bother me when books and films like this get very popular. It also fuels Shoah deniers, particularly as we get further and further away from those events and survivors get older and older. Historical accuracy is so important when writing about the Shoah, and books like The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, Fragments, The Fifth Diamond, Angel at the Fence, and Misha don’t make it easier to quash deniers’ claims.


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