Why was Bruno proud of his father after hearing Maria's story in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas?  

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Bruno is proud of his father after Maria's story because in his mind, it shows that his father is a good man.  In many ways, Bruno feels an allegiance with Maria as he sees her as an outsider, like he is.  Thus, when she speaks of his father's generosity and benevolence to Maria's family, he is filled with pride.  At a point where Bruno has stood against his father's decision to move the family to Auschwitz as well as the father's value system, Maria's story reminds Bruno that his father was a good man.  This is something that fills him with pride, as it means that while Bruno may disagree with his decisions right now, there is a core goodness within him. This is where Bruno is once he hears Maria's story.  It allows him to feel pride and love towards his father, even if right now he does not understand the full implications and rationale for what he is doing at Auschwitz.  In this light, the story also brings complexity to the father's character.  There is a goodness within the family, and just as Bruno cannot fully reconcile this benevolence with what is happening with the family right now, we, as readers, have to reflect on how we are viewing a man who is a high ranking Nazi official.  We must reconcile our view of him as a murderer with the reality that he does demonstrate goodness.  As Bruno is confused, we are too.  This makes his feeling of pride more poignant, as in the world of confusion there is the feeling of pride that a son feels towards his father.

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