The Boy in Striped Pyjamas

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The story is mostly told from the viewpoint of a child, eight year old Bruno. His father is an SS Officer and the family move from Berlin into a house near the grounds of a concentration camp. Bruno thinks that the fence exists so that animals cannot escape. Schmuel laughs, but not unkindly and he informs Bruno that the purpose of the fence is to restrain the Jewish prisoners.

The sadistic SS lieutenant beats to death the Jewish house servant, and following this Bruno discovers Schmuel working in his home. He gives him cake to eat, and at this point the lieutenant enters and notices the crumbs around Schmuel’s face. He accuses Schmuel of stealing food, and Schmuel denies it. He explains that he and Bruno are friends, and that this is why Bruno gave him the cake. Bruno is frightened of the lieutenant, and without regard for the consequences to his friend, he fears for himself and denies all knowledge of knowing Schmuel and says that he did not give him the cake.As children do, Bruno misunderstands the word and hears his new home referred to as “out with.” This implies that the story is based on Auschwitz Shortly after their arrival, Bruno’s sister, twelve year old Gretel becomes increasingly more orientated towards the Nazi doctrine due to her attraction to the SS Lieutenant Kurt Kotler, her father’s underling. He subtly encourages Gretel’s feelings towards him, and it soon becomes clear that the SS Lieutenant is a particularly cruel psychopath. Bruno’s mother Elsa does not share the Nazi beliefs of her husband and daughter; however she is extremely afraid to voice her concerns. Bruno is too young to understand what is happening around him. He asks his father why he sees people wearing striped pyjamas. His father tells him that they are not people, and that they are only Jews.

Although he is told not the leave the boundaries of the house, Bruno, like most young boys, becomes bored and decides to explore. He finds himself at the perimeter fence of the...
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