In The Boy in The Striped Pajamas by John Boyne, what did Shmuel's father do?

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shmuel is the boy on the "other side of the fence" who Bruno befriends whilst out exploring, despite being forbidden from doing so, with "No Exceptions," in The Boy in The Striped Pajamas. He and Bruno discover that they share the same birthday and Bruno is surprised to learn that, having left Berlin, he is now in Poland. The boys discuss their lives before "everything changed" and, in chapter 12,  Shmuel recalls the flat where his family lived above his father's store. His father repaired and made watches and Shmuel particularly cherished the watch with "the golden face" that his father had made for him. He tells Bruno how the soldiers had taken it from him, "of course," expecting Bruno to understand. Bruno cannot contemplate the things that Shmuel tells him and thinks he is exaggerating, especially about living with another family in one room - "That doesn't make any sense." Bruno sees only the similarities between himself and Shmuel and is oblivious to the harsh conditions and differences, even thinking Shmuel has the advantage in having "hundreds" of boys to play with - "That's not fair at all."     

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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

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