The Boy in the Striped Pajamas explores the theme of friendship. Two boys meet. Bruno is the son of a Nazi commandant and Shmuel is a Polish Jew who is interned at Auschwitz. The boys quickly learn that despite being separated by a fence, they have quite a lot in common, including their birthday. The two boys, too young to understand why they are not supposed to be friends, come to understand one another and ultimately suffer the same fate despite their different situations. The novel explores the idea that the only fences that exist are the ones we create.