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The Role Of Food In The Boy In The Striped Pajamas By John Boyne

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Authors have a tendency of using the most familiar aspects of life to attract the attention of readers and to make their stories worth reading. For instance, John Boyne, in his work “The Boy in Striped Pajamas”, extensively used food to further develop the plot of his. This choice is mostly driven by the desire to have the audience identify with the novel by having a common factor related to their daily lives and routines. Boyne identifies the issues associated with food, such as production, preparation, accessibility, schedules, sharing, and the overall effect it has on the social, cultural and moral circumstances and dynamics of the story’s characters. To achieve this, he uses the characters of Bruno and his household, Shmuel, Kotler, Maria, and Pavel, and the settings of Bruno’s residence and the area around the fence. Farmers in the countryside are responsible for the production of food and the later supply to the urban centers. They notably have to practice crop farming as well as livestock rearing for animals such as cows for their meat, which forms part of the diet for the people in the urban centers. In these urban centers, food is commercialized as seen with the restaurant that Grandfather was running as a business entity. The restaurant would serve the working class in the urban settings. The preparation process for food was based on division of labor amongst different persons, whereby the upper class in the society was able to afford employees to work around the kitchen, – preparing and serving them food.

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For instance, at the Commandant’s residence, Maria held control over the entire kitchen operation and monitored every activity. Her presence was upbiqutous, exemplified by her encountering Bruno taking extra bread from the kitchen. Lieutenant Kotler is also seen to express authority and management around the kitchen when he reprimands Shmuel for having some foreign food in his possession, assuming that he had stolen from the kitchen. Further separation of tasks in the preparation of food is seen in Pavel, whom is always busy on the vegetables, peeling potatoes and carrots and even serving the family of Bruno. Later, after Bruno’s father is made colonel, soldiers are seen at his residence to cook and serve his household. However, as a person advanced in age, they would cease participating in the direct process of preparation and waiting tables and mostly settled for the management as Grandfather implied. There was a significant disparity in the access of food as the social status of the person determined the kind and ratio of food that one could obtain. For instance, as upperclassmen, Bruno’s household had access to the best foods, such roasted beef. Moreover, they had a variety and surplus in the diets. For example, Bruno’s excessive access to food allowed him to provide bread to Shmuel. Besides, Bruno seemingly belonged to a higher class as he would even occasionally have chocolate, and never considered it as an extravagant luxury despite his mother’s constant condemnation for harming his teeth. Shmuel, on the other hand, did not have access to enough food in the concentration camps. Upon Shmuel’s first interaction with Bruno, he borrows some food, asking him whether he had bread on him and is shocked that Bruno had thought of carrying chocolate, yet he had only had chocolate once in his life. Aside from the accessibility, there was a precise way and mannerisms that different persons in the society followed when taking food. For instance, among the Brunos’, it was customary to wash the hands before meals. Also, there was a prescribed time for dinner which was after 6:30 PM. However, this was not the case with Shmuel and other members of the concentration camp, who took bread from the pockets and at one point is seen to take three slices of bread all together without any accompaniment.

Bruno’s father even had a preferred side on the bread that would be buttered. Moreover, there was a prescription of the topics that were to be discussed during meals, with the most crucial ones being avoided as part of the table manners. At one point, Bruno’s father is seen to demand the attention of all the family by tapping the knife on the table as he seeks to silence Bruno and his sister who seem to be arguing during mealtime. In several instances, the adults, soldiers and Bruno’s mother are seen to be taking liquor after their dinner, at a time when all the children were forced to sleep. In conclusion, the discussion above demonstrates how feeding behaviors vary from one social group to another. The rich persons and those in authority are seen to have excessive supply of a variety of foods that they have enough that they can share with others. These rich people are also seen to have subordinates that prepare and serve food at the specified times. They even have the luxury of chocolates and wines after meals although children are restricted from taking these foods. On the other hand, the poor in the concentration camps have less access to food and are mostly emaciated. They are always looking out to have food even though not luxurious. Bruno sets a perfect example by sharing with Shmuel despite the difference in class.

01 February 2021

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