What are Bruno's most important experiences during the novel?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are several significant scenes throughout the novel that are considered important experiences in Bruno's life which not only change his perspective but have both positive and negative results.

In Chapter 7, Bruno builds himself a tire swing which he accidently falls off of and scrapes his knee. Pavel, a Jewish prisoner and servant, witnesses Bruno's fall and is quick to come to his aid. While Pavel is bandaging Bruno's wound, he tells Bruno that he was a doctor. Bruno begins to ask Pavel questions about how long he's been at Out-With, but before Pavel can answer, Bruno's mother walks in. This experience is significant in Bruno's life because for the first time, he recognizes Pavel's generosity and views him as more than simply a servant. Bruno's friendly encounter with Pavel not only increases his perspective but allows Bruno to have empathy for Pavel and question why his father did not intercede when Leutinenant Kotler mercilessly beat Pavel.

Another important life experience takes place in Chapter 10 when Bruno meets Shmuel for the first time. Bruno's initial interaction with Shmuel develops into a blossoming friendship. Despite the fact that Shmuel is behind the huge fence at Auschwitz because he is a Jewish prisoner, both boys become close friends and visit with each other as often as they can. Bruno brings Shmuel food, and their conversations fill Bruno with purpose and happiness.

Bruno's decision to help Shmuel find his father is another significant experience throughout his life. In Chapter 19, Bruno changes into the prisoner uniform that Shmuel gives him and climbs underneath the fence. As the boys search for Shmuel's father, they find themselves herded into a group of prisoners heading towards the gas chamber. Tragically, both boys die in the gas chamber. Although fatal, Bruno's decision to risk extreme punishment to help his friend expresses his sincere love for Shmuel, which is significant to Boyne's overall message in the novel.

Read the study guide:
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

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