How do the differences in mood in Berlin and Auschwitz affect Bruno's character in Boyne's The Boy in the Striped Pajamas?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At the time of the setting, the capital of Germany, Berlin, is an old, heavily populated, cultured metropolitan city. Auschwitz is a location in southern Poland, near Oświęcim, an industrial town. This location, which had over forty parallel railroad tracks, was annexed by Germany at the beginning of World War II.

Clearly, then, there are marked differences between these two locations. For the young Bruno, even without his knowing what his father's position is and why they now live in Auschwitz, his new home is a desolate place. Theirs is the only house around; there is no neighborhood or anything like there would be in an established city.

Beyond one of the windows, Bruno and Gretel see a garden, but after this garden there is barren land, and then tall fences and wooden telegraph poles with wire bales. Even farther away, there are small huts and small buildings with smoke stacks. The children also notice that there are hundreds of people who appear very dirty. Bruno and Gretel decide that it is an "awful landscape" despite the forestland in another direction.  

On the other hand, Berlin is a charming city that has a history where families have lived for generations; there is a culture of music, art, drama, food, and customs with holidays, etc. Beautiful homes and buildings and many shops are in Berlin. 

Bruno has his family and friends in Berlin; in Auschwitz he has no friends until he meets Schmuel. In Berlin his grandparents play an active role in his life, especially his grandmother, who was on the stage when she was young. She would dramatize sometimes for the family, and Christmastime was always enjoyable.

So, in Berlin Bruno had his friends and family and always something to do and to anticipate with eagerness. Now, in Poland, he is disheartened and unhappy in a house that is not nearly as pretty as his Berlin home.

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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

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