How does Elsa respond when she learns the true nature of her husband's job in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas?

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amartiniuc eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When Elsa learns of the move, she takes on the role of the good Nazi wife and agrees to the move. As Kommandant, his father has been stationed to supervise a concentration camp. We do not know how much Elsa knows about the reasons for this move until she becomes unhappy.

The reader is aware that Elsa knows what is occurring when Bruno realizes that “over the course of the next few weeks Mother seemed increasingly unhappy with life at Out-With…” We also know that she is aware of what is occurring when Bruno overhears her arguing with his father, exclaiming: “‘It’s horrible…Just horrible. I can’t stand it any more.” When his father protests her desire to move back to Berlin, she exclaims “‘Work? You call this work?"

We then learn that she takes medicinal sherry, which could be an indication of her attempts to cope with what she knows is occurring behind the fence. Bruno recognizes that his mother is unhappy. He states, “mother kept very quiet during the day and was having an awful lot more of her afternoon naps, some of them not even in the afternoon but before lunch, and Bruno was worried for her health because he’d never known anyone to need quite so many medicinal sherries.”

Then one day their father summons them to his office and relays the good news. They are moving to Berlin with their mother. Surprisingly, Bruno is unhappy to hear the news.

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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

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