Chapter One introduces the reader to Bruno and his family. They are living in Berlin,but Bruno's father, a high ranking Nazi official, has been transferred to Out With (Auswitz). Bruno's mother,who is very upset, tells him to say goodbye to his friends and pack his clothes.
Chapter Two has Bruno and the family arriving at their new home. It is a dismal place. Bruno is very unhappy and tells his mother that they should spend the night and then return to Berlin. His mother tells him that is not an option and to make the best of it. Bruno asks Maria what she thinks, and she says it isn't her place to say anything, but his father has an important and serious job. When Bruno says his father should think twice about his job, he is suddenly fearful because his father's bedroom door opens. He fears his father has heard him. But it is a young blond soldier. Bruno suddenly notices a small window in the corner of his room. He looked out the window and what he saw made him suddenly feel very cold and unsafe.
Chapter Three introduces us to Gretel, Bruno's 12-year-old sister. She tries to dominate him and make him feel she is definitely in charge. He talks with her about the fact that he is unhappy there, and she agrees with him. He tells her the other children don't look friendly. Since she doesn't know what he is talking about, he takes her to his room and shows her the window. She looks through the window and she sees exactly what Bruno was talking about.
Chapter Four explains what they saw through the window. They saw a group of men, boys, and children. There were no girls or women and the children wondered about that. It then describes the physical outlay of the property. Gretel's first idea was that they were in the countryside where there are farmers and animals. But Bruno explains that there are no animals or cultivation of the land. They watched as a group of children huddled together as they were being yelled at by some soldiers. Some of the children were crying. Gretel remarks that she would not want to play with those children since they were so dirty. She returns to her room, but she is really upset by what she has seen. Bruno continues to watch the people, and he thinks how extraordinary it is that they all wear the same clothes: a pair of grey striped pajamas with a grey striped cap on their heads.
Chapter Five shows how upset Mother is to have moved to this dismal place. She criticizes her husband and regrets that they entertained the Fuhrer. She then realizes that her maid, Maria, has been standing there. Afraid of Maria possibly reporting her, she tells her she didn't mean it. Bruno decides he is going to talk with his father. He tells his father that he wants to go back to Berlin. His father wants to be nice, but eventually loses patience and tells Bruno to accept his situation. Bruno asks about the people outside, and his father tells him that "they're not people at all" and that he has nothing in common with them. As Bruno leaves his father's office, he gives him the Nazi salute and says "Heil Hitler", the words he says every time he leaves a soldier's presence.
It was really bad