In The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, how does the father feel about the move to the new concentration camp, "Out-With?"

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is told from Bruno's perspective, and Bruno is the son of the commandant who is tasked with running, in Bruno's own words, "Out-With," the reader only gets glimpses of how Bruno's father might feel about the move. Bruno reveals in chapter 1, that according to what he has heard, his father is "a man to watch." From Bruno's descriptions, the new job is a well-deserved promotion for "a very special man" and his father's selection is a carefully considered choice. When Bruno's mother refers to "some people," and Bruno knows she is talking about his father, the reader senses that the father is very motivated to go and is anxious to impress the "Fury," (Bruno's mispronunciation of fuhrer). During one of Bruno's flashbacks (chapter 11), the reader learns, that when Father is first considered for the position, he comes home in "great excitement" at the prospect of "the Fury" coming to dinner. It seems that the family's life changes after the "Fury's" visit and that Bruno's father certainly has a "determination to get ahead" (chapter 5).

Father takes his job very seriously and has been sent to "Out-With" after the previous commandant failed in his task. Bruno notices that his father's boots are more highly polished and his "freshly pressed" uniform more impressive than any of the other soldiers. This reveals how proud Father is of his new position. He also feels that his new job is "important to our country" and will not hear of Bruno's complaints and desire to return to Berlin. Father reminds Bruno that a father knows what is the best for his family and so Bruno will have to trust him just as Father knows "when to keep my mouth shut and follow orders" (chapter 5). He feels that his new position reflects his "success" even though, it is revealed in chapter 8 that his own parents, Bruno's grandparents, have very different views of their son's achievements. 

In chapter 13, Bruno's father's commitment to the cause is further confirmed when Lieutenant Kotler comes to dinner and there is talk about Kotler's father. Bruno's father talks of "the Fatherland" and its "greatest glory." He even goes on to suggest that some people who left Germany are "traitors... cowards" and there is a threatening undertone in his voice. it is only because his own family is seated around him that he realizes that "it is not an appropriate subject of conversation" whereupon he insistently shuts down the conversation. His passion is sadly unmistakable and the move to Out-With is, in Father's apparent opinion, all part of his duty and is an honor. 

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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

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