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Change - the Boy in the Striped Pajamas + to Kill a Mockingbird

In: English and Literature

Submitted By emilemily7
Words 1137
Pages 5
Change is both a vital and inevitable part of our lives, and has a powerful effect on people, their perspectives, and the world around them. Through their experiences, many characters in texts such as Harper Lee’s novel, To Kill A Mockingbird, and the film, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, directed by Mark Herman, undergo various changes and transformations, not only physically, emotionally and intellectually, but also in their understanding and perspectives of the world around them. Studying texts such as these provides the audience with valuable insight into the aspects of changing worlds, perspectives, relationships and selves, which they are then able to relate to their own lives.
Characters in both To Kill A Mockingbird and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (hereafter referred to as Mockingbird and Pyjamas respectively) change their attitude to society’s notions of the superiority of certain races and religions over others, creating a valuable moral imperative through the historical nature of the texts. Harper Lee’s Mockingbird is set in the small American town of Maycomb amidst the 1930s civil rights movement, and is centred on Scout’s moral struggle when questioning the racism and discrimination present. At the start of the novel, Scout blindly follows the discriminatory beliefs of society, although as she experiences more of the world for herself, she begins to question the hypocrisy of society, “How can you hate Hitler so bad an’ then turn around and be ugly about folks right at home?” Through the use of colloquial language, the author demonstrates Scout’s criticism and confusion concerning the hypocritical nature of society, and how she’s developed into a free-thinking individual. This encourages the reader to compare the hypocrisy of the treatment of Negroes in the 1930s to discriminated groups of the present day, providing thought-provoking insights and ideas.
Similarly, in Mark Herman’s Pyjamas, Bruno’s mother, Elsa, undergoes a personal transformation as she changes her views of the treatment of Jews, no longer allowing herself to be influenced by her husband and the rest of society. Her world starts off small and oblicvious, as she fears that even observing the injustice of the situation would implicate her husband, which later results in a change in the relationship between the couple. However, as the film progresses, she is forced to seriously question the horrific and discriminatory activities occurring inside the concentration camp, the first time being when she realises the nature of the camp itself, “they smell even worse when they burn, don’t they?” This rhetorical question is extremely confronting to both Elsa and the audience, compelling both to examine the moral injustice of the Holocaust. This is highlighted through film techniques in the scene, primarily the use of zooming and changing camera shots between Elsa’s and Lt. Kotler’s faces, and the smoke from the chimney, which work to connect the unjust events transpiring around her.
Certain experiences and events allow characters to formulate new, more informed opinions of others, consequently altering existing relationships. This is evident in both Mockingbird and Pyjamas, where the audience is able to gain valuable insights into their effect on characters’ relationships, and as a result, apply this understanding to their own lives and relationships. In Pyjamas, Elsa confronts her husband about the mass execution of Jews in the nearby camp, which acts as a primary tipping point in their relationship, marking the disintegration of the family as a whole. She now regards her husband as a cruel monster, as shown when she exclaims, “Get away from me! Get away from me!” The repetition acts to express her fear and revulsion of her husband and his involvement in the camp, drastically dissimilar from their image as a blissful couple presented at the start of the film. A POV shot is also utilized in this scene to demonstrate the collapse of Bruno’s parents’ relationship through his eyes, as well as the change in family dynamic due to changing worlds.

In Mockingbird, Jem demonstrates the influence of events and experiences on changing selves and relationships, especially between Scout and Himself. “Jem was twelve. He was difficult to live with, inconsistent, moody… This change in Jem had come about in a matter of weeks.” Lee uses short sentences to emphasise Scout’s concern and despair over her collapsing relationship with her brother, primarily caused by Jem’s emotional response to the courage shown by Mrs Dubose as she passed away with honour. This creates a sense of awareness in the reader as they are exposed to the effect both depressing and inspiring events can have on a person, as well as their relationships with others.
The points of view in Mockingbird and Pyjamas allow the audience to experience compelling and often unexpected insights into the changing selves and perspectives of characters through changing worlds, maturity and associated experiences. Mockingbird is written from the perspective of Scout as an adult, although it attempts to show her views as an innocent child. This is seen in Chapter 26 when Atticus explains to Scout why Jem reacted so furiously when she mentioned the court-house to him, “Atticus said that Jem was trying hard to forget something.” Lee uses simplistic language to emphasize the innocent, naïve and impartial point of view of a child as she describes the events that transpired. This allows the reader to distinguish and understand for themselves the changes occurring in Jem through maturity, as he becomes more courageous and willing to suffer the social consequences of abiding by his morals. This in turn challenges the reader to emulate his strength, courage and moral integrity.
Likewise, the use of POV filming in Pyjamas highlights Bruno’s new-found awareness and consequential confusion into Germany’s anti-Semitism, caused by his changing world – from Berlin to the countryside. Herman uses the flashback of defenseless, innocent Shmuel, contrasted with the harsh words from his family concerning the Jews, “well you see, they’re not really people at all,” in order to express Bruno’s struggle to make sense of the disparity between what he has been taught, and his personal experience of Jews. The haunting nature of the voices further implants his memories and views into the audience’s thoughts, generating compelling insights into the Holocaust, as well as how changing worlds can affect a child’s knowledge and understanding of the cruelty and prejudice of society.
In conclusion, through studying Harper Lee’s, Mockingbird, and Mark Herman’s, Pyjamas, the aspects of changing worlds, perspectives, relationships and selves, intertwine to generate persuasive and compelling insights for the audience. Perhaps the most crucial of which is the recognition that change is both a vital and inevitable part of our lives, and has a powerful effect on people, their perspectives, and the world around them. This is achieved through utilizing points of view, the historical nature of the texts, and themes such as courage, racism and discrimination.

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