The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas considers the dangers of conformity and people's reluctance to take a stand in the face of adversity. In the novel the desire for friendship is universal and at no time is it more important. Bruno and Shmuel exist in two utterly different worlds but share a mutual desire for companionship during a challenging and desolate time. In spite of their remarkably different circumstances, Bruno and Shmuel forge a meaningful friendship.
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Bruno and Shmuel are innocents, particulary Bruno who genuinely doesn't seem to understand anything about their circumstances. In view of this, we can clearly see that friendship has no boundaries, the boundaries are made by preconceived notions and opinions which are more often than not learned...... we are not born to bias, it is created overtime by the opinions and actions of others.
Complacency can be equated with action, reluctance is bred from fear...... fear of reprisal, anger, and even fear of being ostracized for acting on their beliefs. Humanity has a innate desire to belong and is slow to take stands that aren't embraced by the majority. People are afraid of differences, of being different, of befriending those who are different.
Bruno and Shmuel are unlikely friends, and as I've already mentioned, Bruno was unaware of the events around him. Shmuel, however, was slow to warm to the friendship.... wary, frightened. Frightened of punishment and knowing that punishment was a distinct if not assured response to their friendship. None-the-less, once communication opened, the two became fast friends. Their conversations were open and questions were asked, questions that neither boy had the answer to. Then came reluctance to stand up to adversity..... the chance not to conform. When Kotler attacks Shmuel for eating the food Bruno has offered, the food he initially refused, Bruno had the chance to say he offered it..... but he was afraid.... and he didn't. We can say these were simply a child's fears, but those same fears were alive and well in both children and adults of the time. We see the same thing today in regard to war, terrorism, politics, bullying, social media..... it's everywhere. People find it difficult to stand up for anything unless they're a part of the majority, but it only takes one person to make a change...... and two to build a friendship. Bruno and Shmuel succeed..... a great lesson for everyone who reads this novel.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas