What are examples of friendship in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Some of the best examples of friendship in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is seen between Bruno and Shmuel.

Boyne offers some very heartfelt examples of friendship in the relationship between Shmuel and Bruno.  One such instance is when Bruno makes it a priority to visit Shmuel as often as he can.  Bruno is noticeably dismayed when Shmuel is late or if he is unable to meet. This shows how friendship sometimes involves insecurity and anxiety. Bruno demonstrates another aspect of friendship as Kotler berates Shmuel.  Bruno feels terrible that he did not voice support for his friend and he begs Shmuel to forgive him. Bruno shows that friendship is about unconditional support for one another in good and difficult times.

Another example of friendship is seen in the sacrifices made for it.  When Bruno crosses the fence and sees what "Out-With" really is like, he does not like what he sees and wants to go back home.  However, Shmuel reminds Bruno that he promised to help him find his father.  Without hesitation, Bruno is reminded that friendship is about honoring promises.  One of the most poignant moments in the novel takes place when both boys are in the gas chamber.  Bruno reminds Shmuel that he is his "best friend for life."  In times of distress, Boyne shows that friendship is about being there for one another, something that both boys show as they die. 

While Bruno misses his friends from Berlin, the best example of friendship in the novel is the one he shares with Shmuel.  It might be the reason why Bruno cannot remember his old friends' names when he is in the gas chamber.  Both boys remind us that friendship and love can sustain us through the worst of times.

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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

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