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

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas book cover
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How can I describe the influence of the father and mother on their son Bruno?

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To some extent, both Bruno's parents exert a similar kind of influence over his upbringing. Bruno's father, Ralf, is a strict disciplinarian, very much of the old school when it comes to raising children. He is lord and master of his own domain and expects absolute obedience from both Bruno and his sister. This makes him quite an intimidating authority figure. At the same time, Ralf's strict regime of discipline merely serves to heighten Bruno's curiosity about life on the other side of the fence, with tragic consequences.

For her part, Bruno's mother attempts to protect her son from the harsh realties of the war and all it entails. She pointedly refuses to talk about the war with her children and gets noticeably cross when they start asking too many questions. But again, her keeping of Bruno in a state of ignorance about the horrifying reality of life at Auschwitz tragically backfires. Bruno is still only a young boy, full of curiosity about his new surroundings. His mother thinks that by stifling this curiosity she'll turn Bruno into an obedient child. But as with her husband, her disciplined approach to raising Bruno does no such thing, and it also contributes to Bruno's tragic demise.

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