The story that is not told

13 Jan

The Boy in Striped Pyjamas (both the novel and film versions) has received mixed reviews.  In particular, it has been criticised for a failure to confront the realities of the Holocaust.  See, for example, this article by A. O. Scott in the New York Times.

My plan is to introduce students to the Holocaust before commencing studying the novel.  During these context lessons I will also flag that this book is a work of fiction; it may draw on history, but the events depicted did not happen.   As we read I will provide students with opportunities to access additional information.

I am toying with the idea of showing students some of the reviews of the novel, asking them to identify those aspects with which they agree.  I will then either ask them to craft an argument defending the review that they consider to be most accurate, and/or to compose their own review with draws on examples from the text to support their own views.

Aside from the writing and discussion opportunities provided, sharing the reviews provides students with a wonderful opportunity to understand that viewpoints can legitimately differ.  It also provides an opportunity to explore everyday texts, hopefully shooting home the notion that discussion about literature is not, and should not, be confined to the English classroom.

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