What are some differences and similarities between Bruno and Shmuel in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas?

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One similarity that should jump out at readers is that both boys are exactly the same age. They share the same birthday, so that gives them immediate common ground. They also are both males living in essentially the same location, but that is all very surface level stuff. One similarity...

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One similarity that should jump out at readers is that both boys are exactly the same age. They share the same birthday, so that gives them immediate common ground. They also are both males living in essentially the same location, but that is all very surface level stuff. One similarity that probes a little deeper is that both Bruno and Shmuel are both lonely characters that are seeking friendship wherever they can find it. This actually can be used to point out some stark contrasts between the two characters. Shmuel is lonely because his family and friends are being systematically separated from each other and either worked to death or killed in one gruesome fashion or another. Bruno on the other hand is lonely and isolated due to his father's position in the Nazi hierarchy; however, Bruno's life can hardly be described as bad or even wanting. Perhaps this is why he is so quick to try and distance himself from Shmuel when they are caught together. Another striking difference exists between the ignorance level of each character. Shmuel has a decent handle on his current life situation. He's been forced to witness all kinds of atrocities, and he understands fairly well where he is. Bruno, on the other hand, is so unbelievably ignorant that he's practically an unrealistic character. He doesn't understand what is happening at the concentration camp that his own father is a major part of. This is amazing since the Hitler youth programs were designed to condition children like Bruno to adhere to Nazi beliefs and practices.

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Bruno and Shmuel are both lonely and seeking friendship, and they are very excited to talk every day and build their relationship. However, Bruno understands that because of his family's position in the Nazi regime, in order to continue a friendship with a Jewish boy, he must keep their friendship a secret, thus continuing their separation by the fence of the camp. This difference—imprisonment versus freedom—is the most prominent distinguishing factor between the two boys. This is why Bruno is willing to throw Shmuel under the bus when he's caught eating chicken. Eventually, Bruno overcomes his need to preserve this difference however, and he dresses in the inmate uniform in order to help Shmuel look for his father. This choice results in Bruno losing his privileged position as a German and becoming even more like Shmuel as the two boys are led to the gas chambers together.

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In many substantial ways, Bruno and Shmuel are—or rather, should be—very similar. They are both mainland Europeans from educated families; they are exactly the same age; they both have a boyish curiosity and a willingness to become friends; and they are both lonely—though for very different reasons.

The wedge driven between them by the Nazi occupation has to do with Shmuel's Jewishness. The fact of this religious/cultural distinction renders Shmuel a prisoner, and the result is that he and Bruno are placed at polar opposites on several spectra.

Shmuel is captive, while Bruno lives among his captors; they are skinny versus well-nourished; impoverished versus privileged; and dirty versus clean. According to the Nazi narrative, it is bad versus good. However, rather than reinforce such a judgement, the juxtaposition highlights one fundamental similarity, and their compatibility which results from it.

They are worlds apart, but indelibly bonded by a single shared experience: loneliness. Neither is able to access the full love of his parents. Bruno sympathizes and takes action. The boys' shared naivety is evident in their mutual decision to break Bruno into the camp.

The boys are bound together by common experience—the absence of a loving family.

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Both Bruno and Shmuel are young boys living in Auschwitz, and they become close friends after having numerous conversations between the large fence that separates them from each other. Both boys were forced to move from their homes and do not like Auschwitz. Bruno and Shmuel are also both curious boys, who are depicted as relatively friendly individuals. They are both portrayed as selfless individuals, and they make sacrifices to help each other. Both boys share the same birthday and enjoy talking to each other through the fence. Despite their drastically different situations, Bruno and Shmuel become close friends and tragically die together in a gas chamber.

Despite their similar personalities, Bruno is the son of a Nazi commandant, while Shmuel is a Jewish prisoner. Bruno lives a luxurious life outside of the concentration camp while Shmuel has to endure the dangerous, horrific environment inside the death camp. Bruno is also portrayed as a more naive character who does not fully understand the nature of the concentration camp, while Shmuel is much more aware of his surroundings. Bruno also makes several blasé remarks, while Shmuel is a more humble, quiet boy.

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In the book The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, the two protagonists, Bruno and Shmuel, have a number of similarities and differences. They are age-mates, as they were both born on April 15th, 1934. They are also both forced to move from their homes, which they had been fond of: Bruno, from Berlin to Auschwitz due to his father’s role with the Nazis, and Shmuel from his home in Poland to the concentration camp in Auschwitz as a Jewish prisoner. Additionally, both boys were educated: Bruno had a private tutor named Herr Liszt and Shmuel was taught by his mother who was a teacher by profession.

In terms of differences, the first obvious one is the fact that Bruno was born in Germany and was therefore German while Shmuel was born in Poland to his Jewish parents. Whereas Bruno lived in opulence, in a house with food, resources, and servants, Shmuel languished in impoverished conditions at the concentration camp. Finally, Bruno was ignorant of the activities that took place in the concentration camp and only wondered why and how the emaciated, pajama-clad people ended up there. Shmuel, on the other hand, was fully aware of what was happening and experienced the deplorable conditions firsthand.

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