Chapter eleven of John Boyne's The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is titled "The Fury" and, like the rest of the novel, is narrated by nine-year-old Bruno who lives with his family in Berlin. The backdrop of the novel is World War II, and Bruno doesn't really understand many things in their entirety; however, he does share what he knows and we (the readers) have to figure some things out for ourselves. What Bruno refers to as the "Fury" is one of those things.
Bruno's father is a Nazi military officer who comes home one night and announces that they will be having a very important guest Thursday night; it is the only night the Fury can come, so they must change any plans to accommodate him. Bruno asks his father a logical, nine-year-old question: "'Who's the Fury?'" Bruno's father tells his son he is pronouncing it incorrectly and tries to help Bruno get it right; Bruno tries, but fails, to get it right. This is our first clue--Fury is not the correct pronunciation, but it must sound kind of the same.
When Bruno asks who the Fury is, his father is incredulous and his older sister mocks him for not knowing that the Fury "runs the country." This is our second clue: Bruno's family lives in Berlin, Germany, and the leader of that country during this time period is, of course, Adolph Hitler, known by his title, Führer (which means leader).
Some other clues in this chapter support this conclusion:
- Bruno's mother has the house spotlessly cleaned and her children immaculately dressed for this dinner party
- Bruno's father lectures his children to be on their best and proper behavior when the Fury arrives
- The Fury is short, has short, dark hair, and a tiny mustache
- He is accompanied by a beautiful blond woman named Eva Braun
- Bruno's father salutes the Fury when he arrives
- The Fury sits at the head of the table without asking and acts rather like an imperious king all evening.
After the Fury leaves, Bruno overhears bits of his parents' loud and somewhat heated discussion:
"...to leave Berlin. and for such a place..." Mother was saying.
"...no choice, at least not if we want to continue..." said Father.
"...as if it's the most natural thing in the world and it's not, it's just not..." said Mother.
"...what would happen is I would be taken away and treated like a..." said Father.
"...expect them to grow up in a place like..." said Mother.
"...and that's an end to the matter. I don't want to hear another word on the subject..." said Father.
Bruno does not understand what he hears, but we can surmise that Hitler offered Bruno's father a more important position, one which will move the family from Berlin and will expose the children to something quite unpleasant. Despite that, Bruno's father knows he will be treated badly if he refuses the offer, so they will go. Several days later, Bruno comes home from school to find their servant, Maria, packing all of his belongings.