What was the father's job and how was Bruno affected? Explain Bruno's sufferings and adventures in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne.

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Bruno is the nine-year-old protagonist of John Boyne's The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, and his father is a Nazi officer in Hitler's army. After Hitler (the man Bruno calls the "Fury") comes to dinner one night, Bruno's father was promoted to Commandant. The family lives in Berlin at the beginning of the story, but the promotion causes them to have to make a change.

Bruno's father has been appointed the commandant of Auschwitz, a death camp in southern Poland, and the family has to move from Berlin. (Bruno calls it "Out-With" and does not understand exactly what kind of place this is.)This affects Bruno in several ways. First, he misses the house he loves to explore. The house in Berlin is

a very beautiful house and had five floors in total, if you included the basement, where Cook made all the food...and if you added in the little room at the top of the house with the slanted windows where Bruno could see right across Berlin if he stood up on his tiptoes and held on to the frame tightly.

The new house only has three floors and has no places for Bruno to explore.

The second major impact the change has on Bruno's life is that he must leave his very best friends for life: Karl, Daniel, and Martin. These are the friends with whom Bruno has made plans far into the future (or at least as far into the future as a nine-year-old can see), and now he will have to leave them. Even worse, once he gets to the new house, Bruno discovers that there are literally no neighbors or friends to be had anywhere. The only thing he sees is what is called "the camp" next door, but there do not seem to be any friends for him anywhere. 

Of course we know that Bruno eventually does make one friend, but for a time Bruno has no one to play with in his boring new house. In fact, several times he is so bored that he resorts to talking with his older sister, Gretel, because he does not have anyone else with whom to talk. We also learn that, over time, Bruno begins to forget his three lifelong friends, first who they are and finally even their names. 

The move is not what Bruno--or his mother--would have chosen, but he adapts quickly, as most children do. The biggest impact the move has on Bruno is meeting Schmuel, something that will literally affect everything in his life. 

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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

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