Outside their window in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Bruno and Gretel see a desolate looking area that contrasts sharply with the lush garden directly beneath Bruno's window that was "full of flowers" and had a "very pleasant pavement with a wooden bench on it, where Gretel could imagine sitting in the sunshine and reading a book."
In the barren area beyond their garden, they see people who appear to be working hard and who also appear to be very different from any other group of people they have ever seen, although they cannot quite understand what makes this group of people so different. They are puzzled by what they see, and Gretel asks Bruno,
"What sort of place is this?"
"I'm not sure," said Bruno, sticking as close to the truth as possible. "But it's not as nice as home, I do know that much."
Beyond the landscaping of their home, "there was a huge wire fence" that was topped by "enormous bales of barbed wire." They see low huts and ugly large square buildings and "one or two smoke stacks in the distance." They do not understand that those are buildings intended for mass killings.
Bruno disagrees with his sister's theory that they are looking at a countryside environment. While neither child can really articulate it, each feels a sense of dread and fear about the area outside their home. People are fenced in, commanded by soldiers and made to wear the same tattered rags that resemble striped pajamas.
"Who are all those people?" she asked in a quiet voice, almost as if she wasn't asking Bruno but looking for an answer from someone else.
"And what are they all doing there?"
They are puzzled by how desolate the area appears and that there are no women or girls beyond the fence, only men and boys. They are puzzled that some of the men have bandages or crutches. Most of all, they are puzzled by how packed in all the people appear to be in small huts with no distance between them and how filthy looking the people appear, even the children.