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Boy In The Striped Pyjamas | Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 3372 words Published: 21st Apr 2017

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I think the story is round 1943, because that’s the time about the Second World War. Also the birth of Bruno is 15 April 1934, but in the story he 9 years old, so it must be in 1943.

In the quote that I found, you can make clear that it’s happening around the time of Hitler.

“He opened the door and Father called him back for a moment, standing up and raising an eyebrow as if he’d forgotten something. Bruno remembered the moment his father made the signal, and said the phrase and imitated him exactly. He pushed his two feet together and shot his right arm into the air before clicking his two heels together and saying in as deep and clear a voice as possible – as much like Father’s as he could manage – the words he said every time he left a soldier’s presence. ‘Heil Hitler,’ he said, which, he presumed, was another way of saying, ‘Well, goodbye for now, have a pleasant afternoon.”

Time: how much time does the story take? Does it take hours, months, years?

The story takes about 1 ½ or 2 years.

At the beginning of the book Bruno is 9 years old, but at the end he is about 10 ½ years old.

“It had been almost a year since Bruno had come home to find Maria packing his things, and his memories of life in Berlin had almost all faded away.”

“Neither of them did hug each other though, and instead they began the walk away from the fence and toward the camp, a walk that Shmuel had done almost every day for a year now, when he had escaped the eyes of the soldiers and managed to get to that part of Out-With that didn’t seem to be guarded all the time, a place where he had been lucky enough to meet a friend like Bruno.”

Place: Where is the story set?

At the beginning the story takes place in Berlin, Germany but they are moving to Poland. There is also the Out-With concentration camp (Auswitz).

I think they’re very rich. In Berlin they had a very big house, with 5 floors. The house in Poland is much littler, it has 3 floors. His father is commandant and they have 3 housekeepers.

“The house in Berlin had stood on a quiet street and alongside it were a handful of other big houses like his own, and it was always nice to look at them because they were almost the same as his house but not quite, and other boys lived in them who he played with (if they were friends) or steered clear of (if they were trouble). The new house, however, stood all on its own in an empty, desolate place and there were no other houses anywhere to be seen, which meant there would be no other families around and no other bots to play with, neither friends nor trouble.”



Bruno and his family are going to move to Poland because of his father’s work. Bruno doesn’t like it here, he’s bored. He sees a lot of people, out of his window. After a few weeks, Bruno is going to exploring.

Main part:

Bruno met a boy, named Shmuel. This boy is on the other side of the fence. They’re at the same age, almost every day they meet each other and are going to talk.


Bruno’s father told him that they are going back to Berlin. The last they Bruno is going to Shmuel, he’s going to the other side of the fence. Together with Shmuel he’s going to explorer for Shmuel’s father. They didn’t find any evidence. When Bruno wants to go home, it’s too late. They’re led into a building. This is the end of their lives.

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Main Characters:

Bruno: At the beginning of the story he is 8 years old, but the most time he is 9 years old. He’s a very handy little boy, but also very cute. He loves it to Explorer and likes it to travel. He doesn’t really like his sister Gretel, this is because she often belittles him. He looks very much against his father. Bruno is always trying to be honest, because he doesn’t really lying. You notice that it’s really a little boy, because he doesn’t understand many things. The reason why Shmuel is on the other side of the fence, and why there are many more people, and why Bruno can’t go there. He has a very good friendship with Shmuel.

“Sitting alone in his room a few days later, Bruno started thinking about all the things he liked to do home that he hadn’t been able to do since he had come to Out-With. Most of them came about because he no longer had any friends to play with, and it wasn’t as if Gretel would every play with him. But there was one thing that he was able to do on his own and that he had done all the time back in Berlin, and that was exploring. When I was a child, Bruno said to himself, I used to enjoy exploring. And that was in Berlin, where I knew everywhere and could find anything I wanted with a blindfold on. I’ve never really done any exploring here. Perhaps it’s time to start.”

Shmuel: He’s also a 9 year old boy. He formerly lived with his parents in a village. When he came home one day they had to wear a yellow star. After a while they had to go underground. One day he’s taken away from his mother. Together with his father, he’s in the camp. On one day his father goes away from the camp, he has to work, but he will never return. Shmuel is all alone. Shmuel wears a striped pyjama. Shmuel tries to explain Bruno what it is like on the other side of the fence, but Bruno doesn’t understand it.

“Before we came here I lived with my mother and father and my brother Josef in a small flat above the store where my Papa makes his watches. Every morning we ate our breakfast together at seven o’clock and while we went to school, Papa mended the watches that people brought to him and made new ones too. I had a beautiful watch that he gave me but I don’t have it any more. It had a golden face and I wound it up every night before it went to sleep and it always told the right time. What happened to it? Asked Bruno. They took it from me, said Shmuel. Who? The soldiers, of course, said Shmuel as if this was the most obvious thing in the world. And then one day things started to change, he continued. I came home from school and my mother was making armbands for us from a special cloth and drawing a star on each one.”


” Shmuel shook his head and continued with his story. He didn’t often think about the things any more because remembering his old life above the watch shop made him very sad.”

Minor Characters:

Mother Elsa

Father Ralf

Sister Gretel

Luitenant Kotler

Maria the family’s maid

Pavel the clerk

Lars the butler

Herr Liszt the teacher

Grandmother Nathalie

Grandfather Matthias


I think that the most important theme the holocaust is. Other theme is the innocence of childhood. Bruno is a boy who likes explorer, but he is also very naïve. He doesn’t have much understanding of the holocaust. The book is written from a child perspective, everything seems confused and unfair.

There is also the innocence of childhood. Bruno and Shmuel don’t know that there is a holocaust. The only thing that Bruno knows is that, at the other side of the fence, there are a lot of people in striped pyjamas, and that his father is a commandant of something. He doesn’t know that the people of the other side of the fence are Jews, and that his father is a Nazi-commandant. Shmuel doesn’t know why he’s at the other side of the fence. The two boys talking a lot to each other, and they become friends. When Shmuel’s father was missed, he doesn’t understand that he has gone to the gas chamber.

“In reply, Bruno held his own hand out so that the tips of their middle fingers were almost touching. Our hands, he said. They’re so different. Look! The two boys looked down at the same time and the difference was easy to see. Although Bruno was small for his age, and certainly not fat, his hand appeared healthy and full of life. The veins weren’t visible through the skin, the fingers weren’t little more than dying twigs. Shmuel’s hand, however, told a very different story. How did it get like that? He asked. I don’t know, said Shmuel. It used to look more like yours, but I didn’t notice it changing. Everyone on my side of the fence looks like this now. Bruno frowned. He thought about the people in their striped pyjamas and wondered what was going on at Out-With ad whether it wasn’t a very bad idea if it made people look so unhealthy. None of it made any sense to him.”

At the end of the book, Bruno is also gone to a gas chamber. His father finds it awful!

I think that the message of the book is that you should treat people how you would like to be treated. His father does awful things with the Jews, but in fact he also does it at his own son, he is dead because of his orders. http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_ZSz05iU6UAQ/TFSAgM665DI/AAAAAAAAANc/HPLLPeFKBF8/s1600/2.jpg

B: Your opinion

Which character(s) did you like?

I found Bruno sympathetic.

Bruno doesn’t know what is going on. His mother told him that they need to move, because of father’s job. Bruno only knows that his father is an important man with a fancy uniform, but in fact he’s a Nazi-commandant. Bruno is just an innocent boy. He likes explorer and he’s going to be friends with Shmuel.

“Bruno opened his eyes in wonder at the things he saw. In his imagination he had thought that all the huts were full of happy families, some of whom sat outside on rocking chairs in the evening and told stories about how things were so much better when they were children and they’d had respect for their elders, not like the children nowadays. He thought that all the boys and girls who lived there would be in different groups, playing tennis or football, skipping and drawing out squares for hopscotch on the ground.”


” As it turned out, all the things he thought might be there – weren’t.”

I found Shmuel also sympathetic. He is also a little boy who doesn’t understand anything about the war. He is behind the fence and doesn’t know why he is there. He likes it to talk to Bruno. Shmuel is a nice and friendly boy.

“What did you say your name was? He asked. Shmuel, said the little boy as if it was the most natural thing in the world. What did you say your name was? Bruno, said Bruno. I’ve never heard of that name, said Shmuel. And I’ve never heard if your name, said Bruno. Shmuel. He thought about it. Shmuel, he repeated. I like the way it sounds when I say it. Shmuel. It sounds like the wind blowing. Bruno, said Shmuel, nodding his head happily. Yes, I think I like your name too. It sounds like someone who’s rubbing their arms to keep warm. I’ve never met anyone called Shmuel before, said Bruno. There are dozens of Shmuels on this side of the fence, said the little boy. Hundreds probably. I wish I had a name all of my own. I’ve never met anyone called Bruno, said Bruno. Other than me, of course. I think I might be the only one. Then you’re lucky, said Shmuel.”

Which character did you dislike?

I found lieutenant Kotler unsympathetic.

In this quote Shmuel is brought to Bruno’s house, he needs to clean the glasses. Bruno gives him some food, but actually he’s not allowed to do that. If lieutenant Kotler it finds out, he will be very angry.

“What are you doing? He shouted. Didn’t I tell you to polish those glasses? Shmuel nodded his head quickly and started to tremble a little as he picked up another napkin and dipped in the water. Who told you that you were allowed to talk in this house? Continued Kotler. Do you dare to disobey me? No, sir, Shmuel quietly. I’m sorry, sir. He looked up at Lieutenant Kotler, who frowned, leaning forward slightly and tilting his head as he examined the boy’s face. Have you been eating? He asked him in a quiet voice, as if he could scarcely believe it himself. Shmuel shook his head. You have been eating, insisted Lieutenant Kotler. Did you steal something from that fridge? Shmuel opened his mouth and closed it. He opened it again and tried to find words, but there were none. He looked towards Bruno, his eyes pleading for help. Answer me! Shouted Lieutenant Kotler. Did you steal something from that fridge? No, sir. He gave it to me, said Shmuel, tears welling up in his eyes as he threw a sideways glance at Bruno.”


“And then I will come to collect you and bring you back to the camp, where we will have a discussion about what happens to boys who steal. This is understood, yes?”

I found Bruno’s father also unsympathetic. He’s a great man and become a commandant, that’s also the reason why they moved to Auswitz. That’s also why I don’t like him. He is the man who gives orders to the soldiers who need to do al those bad things to the Jews. At home he is also a strong man, he can talk whenever he wants, Bruno don’t like that.

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“Bruno thought about his question, wanting to phrase it exactly right this time, just in case it came out as being rude or unco-operative. ‘Who are all those people outside?’ he said finally. Father tilted his head to the left, looking a little confused by the question. Soldiers, Bruno, he said. And secretaries. Staff workers. You’ve seen them all before, of course. No, not them, said Bruno. The people I see from my window. In the huts, in the distance. They’re all dressed the same. Ah, those people, said Father, nodding his head and smiling slightly. Those people… well, they’re not people at all, Bruno. Bruno frowned. They’re not? He asked, unsure what Father meant by that. Well, at least not as we understand the term, Father continued. But you shouldn’t be worrying about them right now. They’re nothing to do with you. You have nothing whatsoever in common with them.”

What did you feel when you read the story?

The book made me feel sad but it made me also angry about the family.

The story made me feel angry, because the father is a horrible man. He knows what is going on, and the rest of the family doesn’t know what there father is doing for job. His wife knows it a little, but she doesn’t say a lot about it. Sometimes they have a discussion about it, but mostly he wins. It made me angry because I found it not normal that you do such kind of horrible things to people, who are not ‘perfect’. Nobody is perfect, and that made the world beautiful.

“It’s horrible, mother was saying. Just horrible. I can’t stand it any more. We don’t have a choice, said father. This is our assignment and -. No, this is your assignment, said mother. Your assignment, not ours. You stay if you want to. And what will people think, asked father, if I permit you and the children return to Berlin without me? They will ask questions about my commitment to the work here. Work? Shouted mother. You call this work?”

The story made me feel sad because it’s horrible that those innocent Jews are the victim of a war, that is not their fault. They don’t know what is going on. The soldiers did horrible things to them. It made me feel sad because the two innocent boys are passed away, because of the actions of Bruno’s father. Bruno thinks that his father is a nice man, but in fact he is not.

“I expect he’ll return up one day soon. I hope so, said Shmuel, who looked as if he was about to cry. I don’t know what we’re supposed to do without him. I could ask father if you wanted, said Bruno cautiously, hoping that Shmuel wouldn’t say yes. I don’t think that would be a good idea, said Shmuel, which, to Bruno’s disappointment, was not a flat-out rejection of the offer. Why no? He asked. Father is very knowledgeable about life on that side of the fence. I don’t think the soldiers like us, said Shmuel. We’ll, he added with something as close to a laugh as he could muster, I know they don’t like us. They hate us.”

What is your favourite part?

“Shmuel smiled too and the two boys stood awkwardly together for a moment, unaccustomed to being on the same side of the fence. Bruno had an urge to give Shmuel a hug, just to let him know how much he liked him and how much he’d enjoyed talking to him over the last year. Shmuel had an urge to give Bruno a hug too, just to thank him for all his many kindnesses, and his gifts of food, and the fact that he was going to help him find Papa.”


“Actually, he said, looking down at Shmuel, it doesn’t matter whether I do or don’t. They’re not my best friends any more anyway. He looked down and did something quite out of character for him: he took hold of Shmuel’s tiny hand in his and squeezed it tightly. You’re my best friend, Shmuel, he said. My best friend for life.”

In this part Bruno is going to the other side of fence to help Shmuel to finds his father. They didn’t find any evidence. When it’s going to rain, they were lead into a building. Bruno is told Shmuel that he’s his best friend forever, and takes his hand. This is also the end of their lives… they’re in a gas chamber.

I liked this part of the book, because you can see that it’s real friendship. It doesn’t mean if you’re a Jew or something, you can be friends with every one. Bruno’s father is against the Jews, he gives the orders and he is ‘responsible’ for that camp. In fact his son is passed away because of his actions. He’s reason why they’re needed to move.

What do you think about the theme?

There are made a lot of books and movies about this theme, but I think that this book special. This book is written about the perspective of a 9 year old boy. But not a normal boy, he is the sun of the commandant from a concentration camp. The most books about the holocaust are about the Jews perspective, but this book is written through the eyes of a German child. You read the theme about a very different side.

What happened during the Second World War should never happen again. That’s also the reason why I found this a very good theme. It’s something that can’t be forgotten. I think that there will come a lot more books and movies about this theme. It’s good that you see it about an other side.


write down which expectations you had for the course of the story while you were reading the book. Did the book end the way you had expected it to? Would you have liked it to end in a different way? How?

Before I read the book, I have seen the movie. So I knew where it is going about. But I hadn’t expected this end. I had hoped that Shmuel was going to the other side of the fence and that they should go away together or something. That is should be a good end, but that should be boring.

Overall opinion:

did you like the book? Why / why not?

Yes, I found it a great book! Of course you know something about this theme, but in this book it’s told about a different perspective. A child of 9 years old doesn’t really know what’s going on. When you read the story, you also don’t really know what is going too happened. It’s a realistic book. The most English books I found difficult to read, but this book isn’t, I read it in 3 days.


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