This blog is where I escape from reality & is the result of the listening part of me. Oh btw, I dont talk much in real life.

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Saturday, 2 July 2016

I finally got around to watch the movie adaptation of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, in which I read the book by John Boyne some time in 2011. With absolutely no idea of what the setting was, I picked up the book because of the interesting cover from my favourite English teacher's table. The cover was obviously of a little kid in a striped shirt & pants. Miss Syafa told me she could lend me if I wanted to read it, & being the bookworm I was, I thought maybe I could give it a try. After all, I've been reading a little bit too much of Fixi books. I could use a change in genre for a while.

First few chapters of the book, I didn't really understand what was going on - I had a lot of questions. I began frequenting my trips to the staff room just to get more insights. Miss Syafa warned me though about the book, told me to read it at my own pace & to prepare myself for the ending. I thought, alright maybe it would get better after a few more chapters. It wasn't that intense of a read, to be honest, but you know how there will come a time in your life when you read one book & it changes you? This book was it for me.

The story basically was about the Holocaust told through the eyes of a 9 year old boy, Bruno, who happened to establish a forbidden friendship with Shmuel, a Jew, who lives on the other side of the fence. I was 14 back then & had not fully grasped the very idea of the Holocaust or the "Final Solution", so I just took it as what it was told in the book. Little did I know that it was something even bigger than that. The book failed to give readers the true experience of being in German concentration camps, which I guess happened as it was fictionalised. Let's put that aside because I, a naive 14 year old boy, too was oblivious enough to understand what was going on.

This book taught me a lot about naivety. How children are separated from adults in the most subtle ways. How when Bruno had genuine questions about life, adults would pretty much fabricate everything so he wouldn't lose his innocence. How concepts like death & choice are vague to children. How Bruno only wanted a friend to have fun with because living outside a concentration camp apparently was unfair to him because there were no children around to join him exploring. How Bruno didn't understand why Shmuel was always hungry when he secretly came to that side of the fence everyday & brought food for his friend. How Bruno got afraid of his own father who was the Commandant day after day & how he didn't know why his parents were always fighting at one point or why his mother kept crying all day. How he didn't understand why the Jews were supposed to be his enemies, when Shmuel had been nothing but nice to him all this while.

Bruno didn't understand anything that's going on, except that they recently moved there because his father was doing his job - to make the country great again - & that Bruno should be proud of him for making history. Bruno hated history lessons. He only wanted to explore & have fun. Bruno didn't get it. I didn't get it, too.

The movie adaptation followed closely to the book, even the entirety of it just as how I pictured things would be, except that it has been almost 5 years since I read the book. I almost forgot how depressing the ending to the book was, in which the movie provided a tangible image to what I couldn't possibly imagine while I was reading it. I don't think I could ever get that image out of my head.

The book left a deep mark in me that I didn't really understand back then. Now, 5 years & a bit Holocaust-educated me later, after I saw the movie did I understand how deep the story actually was. Despite the fact that the book completely trivialised the whole Holocaust experience, it was actually a great read & opened up my mind to a lot of things. I just wish I have a copy of the book.
Black Moustache