What are some character traits that describe Shmuel in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter 9 of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Bruno decides to amuse himself with an activity with which he occupied himself in Berlin. He dons his overcoat and an old pair of boots and leaves the house in the direction of the tall fence, the wooden telegraph poles, the garden, and the bench with the plaque on it. In Chapter 10 as Bruno approaches these objects, he notices a dot which grows to a blob and becomes a boy in striped pajamas, a boy with "an enormous pair of sad eyes." As he looks at the boy, Bruno decides he

...had never seen a skinnier or sadder boy in his life but decided he had better talk to him.

Bruno is polite; although he asks the boy his name, he does not inquire about the reason why he seems so morose. As they talk, Bruno learns that his name is Shmuel and he is from Poland where his father had a watch repair shop. He was born on April 15, 1934; coincidentally, this is also Bruno's birthday. 

Here are some other character traits that describe Shmuel:

  • He is emaciated.
  • His skin appears grayish.
  • He is from a large family.
  • He loves animals and wants to work in a zoo.
  • He speaks German because his mother has taught him.
  • He has never done any exploring.
  • He no longer plays.
  • He is hungry most of the time.
  • He is small and very thin.
  • He is afraid of being caught where he sits alone by the fence and says he must go.
  • He is careful about what he asks, and he does not speak of certain things that he knows may effect his punishment.
  • He is kind to Bruno despite knowing that his father is a Nazi officer.
  • He loves his family and becomes deeply anxious when he cannot find his father.
  • He is brought to Bruno's house to polish the small glasses because his hands are small; this activity is done in preparation for the dinner with "the Fury." 
  • He is so hungry that he eats the chicken Bruno gives him and is punished.
  • He is terrified of Lt. Kotler. 
  • He considers Bruno a friend.
  • He changes his mind about exploring and elicits Bruno to help him search for his father by procuring striped pajamas for Bruno.
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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

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