set of striped pajamas behind a barbed wire fence

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

by John Boyne
Start Free Trial

In the book The Boy and the Striped Pajamas, what are some of Bruno's older sister Gretel's characteristics?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is a novel written by John Boyne. This story is about a young boy named Bruno and his family's experiences during the Holocaust. Because the story is written from Bruno's point of view, readers get an interesting perspective about the war and the Holocaust in general.

Bruno's older sister is named Gretel. Gretel is a young girl who is infatuated with herself and being socially accepted. She believes she is much wiser than her younger brother and often acts as though she knows everything. Due to the fact that not many children are available to be playmates for Bruno and Gretel, the two are forced to interact more frequently than they did in their previous home. Gretel provides a lot of information to Bruno. Unfortunately, this information is not always accurate.

Gretel is a kind girl. She does her best to be a friend to her brother and will entertain him when it is convenient. She commiserates with her brother about their new home and agrees with him that their new home is an interesting place.

Gretel is also a girl who wishes to learn as much as she can. She often studies geography and the war. Although Gretel is somewhat skewed in her perspective about the war, because of the attractive Nazi soldiers, she learns more about her father's job and eventually must make her own decisions about confronting her father. This is difficult for Gretel because, like most adolescent girls, Gretel desperately wants to be a part of the "in" crowd.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Gretel is a character caught up in the Nazi propaganda that was so prevalent during the time period.  She is an adolescent girl, which means that her maturation convinces her to be enamored with the prestige of the Nazis and a particular infatuation with Nazi men of uniform.  This helps to create her as a "hopeless case," in Bruno's eyes. Gretel understands the need to be socially accepted and, as a result, she embraces the Nazi rise to power.  Gretel is not depicted as one who fully idolizes the ideology of the Nazis, but is in love with the social respect that the Nazis carry.  When she "posterizes" her room with Nazi propaganda, it reflects her desire to be a part of the "in" crowd.  Her infatuation with Hitler as well as other Nazi guards reflect this desire to seek social acceptance.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team