According the Webster, naiveté “implies a genuine, innocent, simplicity”. The adults in this book may not be naïve, but instead they know what is happening but CHOOSE not to recognize it, or they justify certain actions as patriotism. One of those adults would be Bruno’s grandfather. When Grandmother starts to bring up the subject of Ralf’s position, Grandfather says,
“Now, Mother…..You know this isn’t the time.” (pg 90)
He knows what Grandmother is going to say, but he CHOOSES to avoid the topic. To get Grandmother off the topic, he reminisces about the day that Ralf, Bruno’s father, enlisted. He is proud of his son, not for what he does but for what position he has attained.
“It makes me so proud to see you elevated to such a responsible position. Helping your country reclaim her pride after all the great wrongs that were done to her.” (pg 91)
His son is killing thousands of Jews, but he hides the terrible actions under the term “Patriotism”. They are fighting for their country and terrible things happen in war. He is choosing not to deal with the issue. Grandmother, on the other hand, is ashamed and doesn’t hide her shame at all.
Bruno’s mother sometimes seems unaware of what is happening. That is far from the truth. She is torn between the role of the Commandant’s wife and her conscience. She is trying to protect her children from knowing what is going on at Auswitz.
At the end of the book, Bruno hears his father and mother arguing. Mother says,
“It’s horrible…..Just horrible. I can’t stand it anymore. “(pg. 187)
His father justifies the killing of Jews when he says,
“We don’t have a choice. This is our assignment and ----“(pg 187)
When mother wants to return to Berlin, father remarks,
“And what will people think….if I permit you and the children to return to Berlin without me? They will ask questions about my commitment to the work here.” (pg 187)
He sees the extermination of the Jews as a job, and others allow him to continue it.