Story Of A Six Year Old Boy

The painted bird is a novel that takes place I Eastern Europe during World War II, the novel is written by jersey Kosinski. This story focuses around a six year old boy who is sent away from home for his saftey during World War II. The young boy would go from village to village during his six year journey where he would meet many people. The people in each village would go out of their way to torment the boy because of his gypsy/Jewish appearance.

At most every village this boy was treated as a slave because of his black skin, black hair, and black eyes. This boy learns about different cultures as he travels from each village as well as techniques that can compare and contrast the cultures of Eastern Europe during World War II as well as modern day Eastern Europe.

Jerzy Kosinski was a Polish American novelist who was born in 1933, in Lodz, Poland. He was also a two time president of the American chapter of P.

E.N, Jerzy primarily wrote in English. He was a survivor of World War II in which he immigrated to the U.S where he became a citizen. Kosinski is a highly awarded author who has two highly acclaimed books and multiple best selling books. He has a total of nine written books in which the painted bird was his first. (Lavers). The painted bird when it came out was a very controversial book. The painted bird was one of several novels to be banned in Poland.

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Jerzy Kosinski’s novel tells of a Jewish or gypsy boy whose eye is gouged out by peasants in one of several incidents long regarded by the authorities as depicting Poland as brutally anti-Semitic(Reuters). They blamed Kosinski of treachery because Poland felt mistreated.

The book speaks poorly of the setting that is assumed to be Poland. The Polish government accused the CIA of influencing Kosinski to write the book to talk bad about Poland because Kosinski first began to publish under the pseudonym Joseph Novak (Giles). This books was very controversial and would even cause mobs to pop up and riot the book right outside of Kosinski’s mothers house. The book remained on Poland’s banned list for 23 years surrounded by controversy(Poland publishes). The novel is started with a preface section in which Kosinski included an aftermath part to that section as well. Throughout the painted bird it’s hard to get and understanding of exactly what the genre ever is because it’s never clear. Unfortunately for Kosinski he decided to end his life. He ended it in his Manhattan apartment in an odd way where he was found in his bathtub drowned. His wife, Katherina von Fraunhofer-Kosinski, discovered him lying naked in a bathtub half-filled with water, with a plastic shopping bag twisted around his head, the police said(Stanley)

People often argue if this novel is a autobiography or fiction and those arguments come Fr omission he story because of the way Kosinski uses the first person narrative and wether or not if everything that happened in the story is true whilst some sources say that Kosinski did elaborate and stretch the truth a little on certain things that differed than what may have actually happened to him. The feel Kosinski gives in his first person makes it seem like an autobiography because he is somewhat describing what had happened to him and it manipulated many readers into the vibe hat it’s a biography however it isn’t because he uses a lot of fiction in his details of what happened to him. One of the main reasons it gets an autobiographical feel to it is because the characteristics of the young boy in the story are very similar to Kosinski like the age in which everything happened to him like the young boy in the story was roughly six years old when the war started and that’s about the same age Kosinski would’ve been.

Even though it has that feel that an autobiography would give you and the the young boy and Kosinski have many similarities it is fiction. According to Cynthia Giles, Kosinski and his parents were most likely never separated, and went into hiding with a Polish priest (Giles). The thing is Kosinski would be asked whether or he wrote the painted bird as a autobiography he would somewhat avoid this question. Someone even asked him wether or not his work was an autobiography in which he proceeded to say “all my work is autobiographical, all” Kosinski even said hat his wife even learned about his past life through his novels which is crazy.

In the novel it was during World War II in which his parent sent the young six year old to a young village In Kosinski’s novel you get to dive into the culture of Eastern Europe during World War II and you can see what it was like for a you Jewish/Gispy boy going around from villages during Adolf hitlers reign in which he highly despised Jews and wanted them dead. You got to see that this young boy was treated as if he were a slave all because he was a young black Jewish boy and seemed he didn’t have the privileges everyone else had and he was in this situation because his parents didn’t feel it’s was safe and sent him on his own. Religion affects almost every culture and what you wanna represent with your culture through the novel of the painted bird the young boy faces many different religions and cultures. One of the first many you see the boy encounter is witchcraft, he encountered witchcraft at the first two places he went and stayed at.

With Martha, the women who was one of the witchcraft people that he stayed with, one of the two witchcraft homes in which she believed he was a witch and she make many many assumptions about him that are then crazy side. She even made a claim that the young six year old could curse things just by looking at them. He said “She forbade me to look directly into her eyes or even those of the household animals” Martha told him that if there was ever a situation were he accidentally looked into someone’s eyes to spit three times and then cross his arms which would prevent the curse on the other object, then when he would accidentally “cast a spell on someone” he would be punished by not receiving any bread from her for two days. The next home in which he stayed was also a witchcraft home and this one was with Olga the wise one, this is the home in which he kinda starts to believe the witchcraft and that he may be becoming one himself.

Olga tells the boy that the evil spirit within him can look through the boy’s eyes and cast spells on people without his knowledge. Through these two homes he boy starts to see culture and religion taking place in other places than what he is originally used too. He then moves on to the next village and there it is Christianity that he encounters, he is encountered by German soldiers in which they take him to a German base right outside of a small village. From there the young boy just assumed the worst and thought he was dead until luckily a local priest came along and somehow convinced the German soldiers to free the boy and let the priest use him for church use, and it is from this priest that the young boy was introduced to Christianity, from there the young boy found housing with a man named Garbos. During his time with Garbos the priest gets him and introduces him too praying.

The boys then introduced to god think that people are so strong and weak is because the amount of days and indulgences they have. The young boy was starting to get more of an understanding of what these cultures were and what they did. In the time that he spent with Christianity the young boy started to pray every change he got because he was red to build up his indulgences. The people in the village actually did not like the young boy but hat didn’t matter on the day of Corpus Christi when he heard the church bells ring and made his way into the village. When he walked through the doors he was chosen to be an altar boy by a housekeeper. As a young boy not exactly familiar with the duties of an altar boy that he tried to be which didn’t turn out well and he failed at doing that which led to him being attacked by the people’s villagers. Which led to the end of that and the young boy would move on and encounter the next culture and his long journey which turned out to be Atheism.

The way in which he learned about atheism is through a soviet soldier named Gavrila who rescued him in which he learns Atheism. “From him I learned that the order of the world had nothing to do with God, and that God had nothing to do with the world. The boy then gets told by Gavrila that a god cannot exist and was made up by priest to fool stupid people and through these statements the young boy realizes that there cannot be a god. In the novel Gavrila goes on to say that priest invented God to fool stupid people. Gavrila tells the boy that people use God to take refuge because people do not believe in their own power , with Gavrila’s reasoning the young boy sees there is no hope in pursuing Christianity and gives up on that.

It is through these people that the young boy met on his journey that will affect his life. It shows him the diverse cultures out there and how different each one may be. Through these cultures he learns a lot about them and himself as well. Though in the end of all this he pursues atheism which may have been caused by him seeing it as the most reasonable and fit one. He even says “I regretted all my prayers. The many thousands of days of indulgence I had earned with them were wasted”. From there it’s where he pursue the atheism and starts to do things atheist would do.


  1. “Poland Publishes ‘The Painted Bird’.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 22 Apr. 1989,
  2. Kosinski, Jerzy, and Cynthia Giles. ‘The Painted Bird.’ The Literature of War, edited by Thomas Riggs, vol. 3: Impacts, St. James Press, 2012, pp. 185-187. Gale Virtual Reference Library, Accessed 2 Dec. 2018
  3. Kosinski, Jerzy N. The Painted Bird. New York: Bantam, 1978. Print.
  4. Stanley, Alessandra. “Jerzy Kosinski, The Writer, 57, Is Found Dead.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 4 May 1991,

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Story Of A Six Year Old Boy. (2022, May 01). Retrieved from

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