What is the conflict in The Boy In The Striped Pajamas?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Many different conflicts emerge from Boyne's work.  Most of them start with Bruno.  The exposition details how Bruno is in conflict in with the world around him.  He does not want to leave Berlin and does not want to do what his family, especially his father, wants to do.  In this demonstration, an initial conflict is evident.  Conscious or not, Bruno finds himself in conflict with the changing attitudes around him.  Bruno is in opposition to the Nazi lifestyle that advances one group of people at the cost of another.  At the train depot where Bruno notices different modes of reality in the same instant, it becomes clear that Bruno is in conflict, or at least, not in synchronicity with the world around him.  

Over the course of the narrative, Bruno continues to be in conflict with life at "Out- With."  He is not able to accept the propaganda lifestyle that Gretel does and cannot abide by his father's demands.  His friendship with Shmuel causes some of the greatest conflict in terms of forcing Bruno to stand up for what is right and for what he believes.  This involves Bruno feeling bad when Kotler beats up Shmuel and promising him that he will never abandon him.  Naturally, Bruno feels conflict when he has to embark on their "great adventure" and actually see what life on the other side of the fence is actually like.  Yet, Bruno does not cave into his fears.  Rather, he overcomes this conflict by bravely walking with Shmuel to their deaths in the name of what is right and honorable.