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 you explain Bruno and Shmuel's innocent friendship in the story?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I think that the innocence that both boys share is representative of some significant elements in the story.  On one hand, both of their innocence in the face of abject horror is testament to the power of their friendship.  Both boys recognize the commonality between them.  They both recognize the need for friendship in a setting where it is not present.  Bruno finds a companion, something that makes living in "Out- With" more bearable.  Shmuel finds a respite from the daily pain and horror in which he lives.  Both of them are unable to articulate it, but their friendship becomes one of the few things that make living worth living.  It is this friendship that underscores their innocence.  At the same time, I think that Bruno and Shmuel possess innocence because their friendship is apart from the social order that both inhabit.  Bruno's friendship with Shmuel is one in which loyalty is present.  At the moment where Bruno betrays him out of convenience, he feels saddened at his actions, promising never to do it again and affirming the innocence shared between them.  Both of them possess an innocence between one another because their friendship transcends the cynical and cruel world that envelops them.

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