What is a summary for The Boy in the Striped Pajamas?

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beateach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne is told from the point of view of the eight year old boy, Bruno, who is growing up in a wealthy German family just prior to World War II. Bruno is the son of an SS Commandant and his wife who have one other child, a girl who is older than Bruno. The boy’s father is tapped to become the commander of the Jewish concentration camp at Auschwitz, therefore they move out into the countryside.

Bruno becomes friends with another young boy, Shmuel, who is on the other side of an electrified fence. Shmuel is dressed strangely in a pair of striped pajamas with a gold band around his arm. Bruno soon finds out that this is a forbidden friendship because Shmuel is in an extermination camp for Jews.

Shmuel asks Bruno to help him find his father in the extermination camp which induces Bruno to disguise himself as a prisoner. The friendship ultimately leads to a horrifying ending as the author, using the fence as a strong symbol, teaches the lesson that loyalty and friendship can transcend the limitations of class and religious beliefs.

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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

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