What does the book teach about people learning to live with each other?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In order to gain the full measure of the book's lesson about people learning to live with each other, Bruno's character gains center stage.  Bruno is the only member of his family who recognizes that fences, ideology, and divisions are arbitrary.  Bruno's understanding of how people must learn to live with one another is seen in his heroism and bravery.  When he is ready to undertake his "great adventure" with Shmuel, Bruno is scared at the life he sees on the other side of the fence. Yet, he does not back down and does not relent in what he needs to do to stand up for his friend.  Even when this comes at the cost of the gas chamber, Bruno does not stop in his comforting his friend.  At the same time, Bruno dies for his beliefs in being able to live and respect one another.

When Bruno dies, his family recognizes the power of his lesson.  His mother and sister leave to go back to Berlin, and his father goes nearly mad when he pieces together that he is part of the machinery that ended up killing his only son.  It is in this where the book stresses that human beings must possess the capacity to reject constructions that divide and segregate human beings.  Exercises of power should not come at the cost of denying human bonds and connections.  It is in this realm in which the book is insightful in the lessons learned.  The book stresses that human connection and solidarity is the only appropriate response to abuses of power.  Like Bruno, human beings have an active role to play in teaching people how to live with one another.

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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

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