The story begins with Bruno having to move with his family. They currently live in Berlin, but his father got a job promotion and they have to move. Bruno is very unhappy with this, because all of his friends live in Berlin. He thinks he will never have another friend again.
Bruno is a very clever and adventurous young boy. He longs for adventure and thinks that in his new home, he might find some adventure. He is a curious young boy and wants to roam about the new place. He is also very naive. He doesn't have a clue what his father does for a living. When he meets Schumel across the fence, he doesn't realize why the young boy is there. He thinks Schumel is the one getting to have fun.
"It's so unfair. I don't see why I have to be stuck over here on this side of the fence where there's no one to talk to and no one to play with and you get to have dozens of friends and are probably playing for hours everyday. I'll have to speak to Father about it."
When Bruno makes this statement he has no idea what his new found friend's life is really like. Bruno is very unaware of what is really happening.
Bruno also is a very good friend. He and Schumel develop a true friendship. When Bruno sneaks under the fence to help his friend look for his father, he thinks he is going on another adventure. He has no idea this will be his last adventure ever.
And then the room went very dark and somehow, despite all the chaos that followed, Bruno found that he was still holding Schumel's hand in his own and nothing in the world would have persuaded to let him go.
This line in the book is always heart wrenching. The two young boys think they are going on an adventure, but soon realize that this is the end. Bruno had never touched his friend before, but at the end, they were holding hands as equals.