The Boy in the Striped Pajamas reveals the devastating effect of war, regardless of which side a person is on. Bruno and Shmuel have no understanding of their circumstances and their unlikely friendship exposes the futility of war. Bruno is unimpressed that the family has had to relocate to a desolate and unfriendly place where there appears to be no chance of making friends and he is forbidden from exploring.
Chapter 5: Bruno recalls the events just before the family left Berlin and how unhappy his mother is that "The Fury" has influenced Bruno's father so much. She comments about "some people and their determination to get ahead." At the train station, Bruno is confused that the carriage he is in is comfortable with plenty of room and yet he can see other people squashed into another train. He decides to say nothing about it.
Bruno has not seen his father for a few days and when he does, although Bruno is "scared and in awe" of his father, he decides to talk to him about the unacceptable situation. His father explains that the people in pajamas are "not people at all" and Bruno is forced to accept the situation.
Chapter 6: Bruno tries to have a conversation with Maria, the maid but Maria is very guarded in what she says. Bruno points out that his father has obviously made "a terrible mistake" coming here but Maria tries to make him understand that his father is a "good man." He helped her and her mother when they needed it. Maria encourages Bruno to keep his feelings to himself.
Chapter 7: Bruno looks for something to do and asks Lieutenant Kotler for his help to make a swing, despite Gretel's attempts to belittle Bruno. Kotler instructs Pavel, a worker whom Bruno sees as a "waiter," to help Bruno and they construct a swing. Unfortunately, Bruno falls and it is Pavel who dresses his wound. Bruno is confused to discover that Pavel is a doctor and even more confused that Bruno's mother will take credit for cleaning Bruno's wound if Bruno's father should ask.
Chapter 8: Bruno fondly remembers his grandparents. He also recalls how proud his grandfather was of Bruno's father but that his grandmother was "ashamed." Bruno remarks that he never saw his grandmother after that and decides to write to her.
Chapter 9: Herr Liszt comes to tutor the children and life goes on. Bruno decides that it is time to explore outside even though he is not allowed, with "no exceptions." He has seen the people in the distance in their pajamas but up till now he has never really wondered what they are doing. He sees the "Out-With" plaque on the bench he has seen from his window.
Chapter 10: Walking along the fence, Bruno is about to turn back, when he notices "a dot" in the distance which encourages him to keep going. Shmuel and Bruno meet and exchange names and information. They share a birthday and discuss their families and their dreams. Bruno asks Shmuel about the people on his side of the fence and what they are doing there.