The Boy in the Striped Pajamas Questions and Answers
by John Boyne

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

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Racism is presented in the story as something that keeps people apart, both literally and figuratively. The wire fence that separates Bruno from Shmuel symbolizes the artificial barriers that the Nazis have constructed between the Germans and so-called "inferior races." The self-appointed "master race" is on one side of the fence; the race it regards as subhuman is on the other.

Bruno is too young and naive to understand any of this; he thinks that the concentration camp is all just some gigantic adventure playground. In Bruno's innocence we can see that no one is born a racist; people become racist due to outside influences, usually through the warped values instilled in them by their parents. And Bruno's parents, like the fanatical Nazis they are, have tried their best to shape their son into someone who will one day come to regard himself as a member of a superior race that believes it has the right to murder those it deems inferior.

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Walter Fischer eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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John Boyne’s novel The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

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