82 pages 2 hours read

John Boyne

The Boy at The Top of the Mountain

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 2015

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Character Analysis

Pierrot (Pieter) Fischer

Conflicting identities are a core aspect of Pierrot’s character. Born into a French-German family just after World War I, he initially enjoys his dual identity. For instance, he speaks French with his mother and German with his father, and he entertains guests by singing “La Marseillaise” in German and “Das Deutschlandlied” in French. As the tensions grow during the years between the World Wars, his mother urges him not do to speak both languages, since some “find it difficult to forget the war, that’s all. Particularly those who lost loved ones in the trenches” (7). However, his father, having served on the German side in World War I, remains proud despite his nation’s loss, and he encourages Pierrot to celebrate his German identity.

The conflicts between his mother and father, and the confusion about his identity, precipitate Pierrot’s growing struggle for a sense of self. Losing both his father and mother at a young age only exacerbates this struggle, as this leaves Pierrot’s search for identity incomplete and unfulfilled. Furthermore, the bullying that Pierrot experiences both in Paris and at the orphanage in Orléans increase his feelings of self-doubt and insecurity. All of this creates a void within Pierrot’s personality.