Discuss the theme of racism in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne.

The theme of racism prevails throughout The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, with the German Bruno being juxtaposed against his Polish, Jewish friend, Shmuel. The power of friendship, however, is ultimately shown to overcome racism.

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The theme of racism is central to the novel. In it, the naive young Bruno moves with his family from Berlin to a house just outside "Out-with," or Auschwitz, and becomes curious about the people living on the other side of the barbed wired fence nearby. When he asks his sister about them and why they have to be kept apart, she explains that they have to stay with their "own kind." She states that they need to be:

With the other Jews, Bruno. Didn't you know that? That's why they have to be kept together. They can't mix with us.

A darkly comic conversation follows in which Gretel is unable to explain what it is that makes Jews different, just that they are.

Gretel's discussion of the Jews makes it clear that there is no rational basis for racism. The Jews have simply been designated a different, dangerous, and inferior race.

Bruno demonstrates the hollowness of racial categories as he forges a friendship with a young Jewish boy named Shmuel from Auschwitz. Bruno, who has not yet been...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 1012 words.)

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