In chapter 12, Bruno and Shmuel has different perspectives of the train they boarded to arrive at their destination. How are the perspectives different and how is it significant?

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

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The significance of the different perspectives that Bruno and Shmuel have are reflective of the different realities for those in the position of power in Nazi Germany and those who are under its heel.  Bruno's train is nearly empty and quite luxurious.  The other train is cramped with people. Bruno notices that there is a fundamental difference between both worlds featured in each train.  One world, the world in which he inhabits, is fundamentally better than the other one.  The world of the crowded train, the one in which Shmuel lives, is a darker world, more fearful, and representative of more human suffering.  Bruno and Shmuel are able to identity the differences between both worlds because they are living separate lives.  Shmuel's articulation of his train as one with an "airless, stinking boxcar" is reflective of how life is different for those who are not in the position of Nazi power.  The differences in their descriptions of the train ride to Auschwitz reflects the divergent lives they lead.  This external reality is eventually overcome in their friendship where similarities and connection overwhelms that which is different.