set of striped pajamas behind a barbed wire fence

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

by John Boyne

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Grandmother disagrees with the views of the Nazis. How does she stand up for her beliefs?

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Bruno's grandmother is very hostile towards the Nazis and shows her hostility by effectively accusing Ralf of being nothing more than a murdering puppet in a uniform. The very sight of her son wearing his shiny new uniform makes her want to tear her eyes out. Unlike most Germans, who feign ignorance at the campaign of Nazi genocide against the Jews, she knows exactly what goes on at places like Auschwitz and is horrified that her son would willingly be an accomplice to mass murder.

What's particularly hurtful for Bruno's grandmother is that she thinks that perhaps her son turned out the way he did because of how she raised him. No mother wants to think that she's raised a monster, but that's precisely what appears to have happened in this case, and the very thought of it breaks the old lady's heart.

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In chapter eight, Bruno misses his grandparents and remembers how their last Christmas party ended in a disaster. Unlike her significantly older husband, Bruno's grandmother vehemently disagrees with their son's decision to join the Nazi party. After Bruno and his sister perform their annual play, Bruno's grandmother stands up for her beliefs by criticizing her son for joining the Nazi party and compares him to a puppet on a string as he proudly wears the Nazi uniform. Unlike her husband and daughter-in-law, Bruno's grandmother does not praise Ralf for earning the position of Commandant at the Auschwitz concentration camp, and she criticizes the Nazi regime. After Bruno and Gretel are sent to their rooms, Bruno overhears his grandmother screaming at his father and saying that he is only concerned with looking handsome while he callously commits atrocities. Overall, Bruno's grandmother is outspoken in her belief that the Nazis are murderers and is ashamed that her son proudly joined the horrific regime.

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