During the events of the book, Pavel works in Bruno's family home as a servant. Originally, he was a doctor. However, because he is Jewish, he has to be very careful. As a result, he is very quiet and solemn. Later in the book, he faces an attack by Lt. Kotler, a Nazi soldier, for spilling on him during a meal.
Pavel's history is important because although he was intelligent and a doctor, because he was Jewish he was forced to play the servant in order to survive. This opens Bruno's eyes to the violence and cruelty inflicted on the Jewish people during WWII. The Jews are persecuted so harshly that even a doctor is prevented from practicing. As a child Bruno is at first ignorant to these realities, but through Pavel, truly comes to see them.