In The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, where does Gretel think they are when they first arrive at Auschwitz?   

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When the children first arrive at the house in Auswitz, they are both young and innocent.  Gretel is 12 and Bruno is nine.  Bruno, especially, did not like the new house.

“Everything about it seemed to be the exact opposite of their old home and he couldn’t believe that they were really going to live there.” (pg 11)

While Bruno is in his room, he looks through the window and sees other children in the distance.

“He put his face to the glass and saw what was out there, and this time when his eyes opened wide and his mouth made the shape of an O, his hands stayed by his sides because something made him feel very cold and unsafe.”  (pg 20)

Since his parents were busy, Bruno goes to Gretel’s room and tells her about the children he saw through the window.  He doesn’t think they look very friendly. Gretel goes to his room to investigate.  They were not all children.  

“There were small boys and big boys, fathers and grandfathers.  Perhaps a few uncles too.” (pg 30)

Gretel did not know who they were.  However, the children did notice that there were no girls, women, or grandmothers in the group.  Bruno suggested that maybe they were in another part of the encampment. Gretel agreed. She could not understand how anyone could live in such a nasty place.  When Bruno comments on how the huts must only be one floor, Gretel comments that they must be modern homes. 

Her initial explanation to Bruno is that they must be living in the countryside. 

“…..where all the farmers are and the animals, and they grow all the food, there are huge areas like this where people live and work and send all the food to feed us.” (pg 33)

Bruno did not agree with her.  If it was the countryside, where were the animals? Wouldn’t the ground look much better if they were growing food?  Gretel finally admits that Bruno is correct and that it can’t be the countryside.

When Gretel leaves Bruno’s room, she is no longer interested in her dolls. She contemplates what she saw through the window.  Bruno continues to watch and notices that all the boys and men over there are wearing the same clothes.  

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