Authority in the Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and Grow Your Own
1. The power or right to enforce laws, exact obedience, command, determine, or judge.
2. Power to influence or persuade resulting from knowledge or experience.
3. Power or right delegated or given.
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Authority exists in many different aspects of life and takes many different forms. It is essential to the structure and function of any community and authority figures exist everywhere, grounded in knowledge, wisdom and power.
An individual??™s perspective on authority varies greatly to that of a collective, as not everyone shares the same ideas or values the same concepts on what authority is, or what governs it. Perspectives can vary again within the individuals.
Communities can be governed by people with authority, in a majority such as a country, or in a minority such as a household, but individuals may still choose to assert their own personal authority, as a non-conformist. Refusing to conform to authority can be something as simple as refusing to wipe the dishes at your parent??™s request, or something more major such as ignoring rules on welfare for a purpose such as animal or human rights, which may result in consequences enforced by authority figures with greater power.
Authority is beneficial and essential to a community as it contributes to attributes possessed by civilised communities, in the way of order, safety, justice and equality. In some countries, all these attributes may not be covered as authority may be corrupt.
Corrupt authorities generally exist in third world nations today, or countries involved in civil wars. Corrupt authority has existed in the past, with such influential figures as Adolf Hitler, and more recently with such dictators as Idi Amin and Hassam Hussein.
Authority is demonstrated through the four aspects of knowledge, collective authority, wisdom and the individual. In order for authority to be sustained, all four aspects but be accounted for.
Individual authority illustrates our inner voice and our moral compass, involving decision making and our inner guidance. Individual authority can be accepting responsibility for our own actions, conscience, or battling with a disease or illness.
Collective authority refers to organisations, rules, laws and regulations, and who has the right and power to enforce them.
Both these forms of authority must be ground in wisdom and knowledge in order to perform at their best.
Authority is often represented through texts, by exploring different techniques.
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas was written by John Boyne and tells the story of a nine-year-old boy, Bruno, who lives in Germany during World War II. He comes across a death-camp near his new home, where he meets a young Jewish boy. The story is written from Bruno??™s perspective, as a young and innocent boy.
Grow Your Own was released in 2007. It was directed by Richard Laxton, and is a movie about a community of allotments in an industrial area of Liverpool. Families from different countries share land in order to grow and harvest plants, but cultural and racial tension.
The written text The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and the movie Grow Your Own are two very abstract texts, both illustrating aspects of authority through the exploration of different techniques.
Authority can have negative implications on individuals when cultural assumptions are made and differences between individuals are highlighted. This can show a lack of compassion and empathy, and often great misunderstanding. The negative implications of authority on individuals can have detrimental effects on relationships and their lives in society.
In Grow Your Own, dialogue is used very commonly to illustrate this aspect of authority, for example, in the scene where Big John, while speaking to Carla the telephone lady, is approached by young George. Regarding entering his vegetables in the competition being held, Big John responds by saying ???Unfortunately we don??™t have a category for alien species???. Big John and Carla find this esoteric comment amusing, as they understand its derogatory meaning. However, George simply finds offence to the refusal to allow his vegetables in the competition. The comment might simply refer to the fact that Big John is not familiar with George??™s vegetable, but it seems he was also implying a racist comment, that George is an ???alien species???. The esoteric racist comment demonstrates to the audience that authority in this scene is inequitable. It denies a community member participating with other community members due to race and ethnic background, rather than supporting multiculturalism and equality.
This is also demonstrated through a paragraph from The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas as the aspect of authority is represented through its use of language. The young boy, Bruno, questions his father about the people he sees in the distance from his bedroom window. Bruno??™s father, who works for Hitler, responds with:
???Ah, those people??¦ Well, they??™re not people at all, Bruno. You shouldn??™t be worrying about them right now; they??™re nothing to do with you. You have nothing whatsoever in common with them.???
This comment is referring to the death camps of Jews; the people that Bruno can see. It shows that the cultural differences of the individuals have had a detrimental effect on them. They are regarded as outcasts by the current authority, and therefore cannot live their lives in the same community and society.
Through the use of language, the example shows that although the Jewish are still people, they are disregarded and ill-treated due to their religious differences, and German authority has educated their people to believe that this is acceptable. It forces concern and frustration from the audience, as Bruno is a young child, ignorant and oblivious to the second society of outcasts living so close to his own, and is being educated to believe they should not exist. Language used in this excerpt gives the audience two representations of the authority. In one sense, Bruno??™s father sees the Jew??™s as completely different people who deserve to be separated from society because they have different cultural beliefs and do not conform to the same religion. On the other hand, you can see the Jewish people through Bruno??™s eyes; he simply sees another group of individuals excluded, that triggers curiosity. He does not see cultural differences on the outside as they are hidden internally.
I believe this scene represents that because the authority is not grounded in wisdom and knowledge, a society must suffer. The authority has negative impacts on a community because it highlights their cultural differences. Bruno, the child, seems to have the ideal perception of the crowd (he sees no external differences), while his father refuses to even consider them as human beings.
These scenes illustrate, demonstrate and reinforce, through speech and dialogue, that authority has a negative impact on individuals when they are culturally separated and differences are highlighted.
Authority can also undermine people, making them seem inferior. This causes a sense of worthlessness embarrassment and even fear.
In the same scene, from Grow Your Own when George questions Big John, both Big John and Carla refuse to turn around. This shows George no respect as they engage in conversation. A high-angle over-the-shoulder camera shot is able to demonstrate a sense of authority as it shows Big John and Carla as large and intimidating. George is shadowed in the background, as small and insignificant, being spoken to over their shoulders, while observing a cheque.
The authority in this scene may irritate the audience because of the injustice demonstrated, the disrespect shown and the insulting remark towards the child. The two adults demonstrate that as they are deemed the authority figures, they feel no need to waste their time interacting with a child, especially a child of a different race to them, and that their money is more important.
Abuse of authority is prevalent and currently a large issue. People with greater power often take advantage of those with less influence, knowledge and wisdom, and it can often be racially or culturally motivated.
In Grow Your Own, Ali and his family are interrupted one day on the allotments. They are interrogated by a group of immigration officers, who refuse to listen to Ali when he is forced to defend himself, and are forcefully taken away in a large van.
In this scene, camera angles are used predominantly to illustrate this concept of authority, as they show fear and confusion. Most of the shots are close up, two-shots, with multiple people in the frame, showing the argument and scuffle, before shifting to innocent bystanders who are affected by the abuse of power and misunderstanding.
This scene causes great feelings of frustration as the immigration officers do not allow Ali his voice, and remove the family with great force. They show a lack of compassion when dealing with the family??™s situation, and resort to force rather than communication.
This relates to the part of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas when Bruno??™s new friend Shmuel is telling him of his family??™s physical and emotional abuse by Nazi soldiers.
The author uses simple language techniques to make it hard for Bruno to feel sympathy for Shmuel in the situation, as he simply does not understand. Schmuel is unable to express deeply the traumatic experiences he has gone through; his family were forced from their home, onto overcrowded trains without air, and now lived separately in a camp without food, where people were killed every day.
Apart from these techniques illustrating the abuse of authority by the soldiers to start with, Shmuel still feels such fear that he cannot even bring himself to talk about his experiences. This causes readers to feel both anger and sympathy and represents soundly the abuse of authority prevalent in this society.
Through an analysis of both texts and the exploration of techniques, I have discovered concepts of authority that are illustrated in order to create different responses from a selected audience. Both Laxton and Boyne have used dialogue, camera angles and language that reveal to the audience abuse of authority, the negative impacts of authority and the undermining of people.