John Boyne’s Representation of the Shoah in The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas: A Paradigm of Transgression and Linguistic Uncertainties
This article argues that transgression provides an illuminating critical category to examine the narrative construction of John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (2006). Boyne’s decision to entrust his testimonial narrative to Bruno, the son of an SS commander, produces a representational uncertainty that is reminiscent of Theodor Adorno’s claims on post-Auschwitz aesthetics. Bruno’s fictional testimony is marked by a difficulty in conceptualising experience via language, which reveals voids in his cognizance of reality. This epistemic modality, however, is transgressed by the interaction of words and images in the film version of the novel.
Keywords: Cognition • Children’s literature • Cultural memory • Discourse studies • Shoah