What happens to Bruno and Shmuel in the conclusion of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas?  

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

At the conclusion of the story, Bruno and Shmuel die in one of the gas chambers at Auschwitz.

While looking for Shmuel's father, Bruno finally sees what the camps for the Jewish prisoners are like. He is distressed when he realizes that everything he had ever imagined about the camps...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

At the conclusion of the story, Bruno and Shmuel die in one of the gas chambers at Auschwitz.

While looking for Shmuel's father, Bruno finally sees what the camps for the Jewish prisoners are like. He is distressed when he realizes that everything he had ever imagined about the camps were wrong. For example, there are no elderly people sitting outside in rocking chairs, telling stories about their youth. There are also no fruit and vegetable stalls, let alone the cafes Bruno is used to seeing in Berlin. He realizes sadly that there are no children playing, either.

What Bruno sees are starving, emaciated groups of people. Their eyes are sunken, and many of them are crying. Meanwhile, laughing soldiers torment the people with their guns. Bruno does not like what he sees and suddenly wants to go home. He decides to stay, however, after Shmuel reminds him of his promise to help find his father.

So, the two boys continue searching. After a while, they give up their search, and Bruno again announces that he would like to go home. As the boys speak, soldiers blow shrill whistles, and everyone is herded together. Bruno estimates that there must have been more than a hundred people in the group. Meanwhile, Shmuel tells Bruno that groups of people often go on marches. However, in an ominous confession, Shmuel admits that he never sees these groups of people again.

Since he is in the middle of the crowd, Bruno can do nothing, except to march alongside Shmuel and everyone else. By this time, the rain is pouring, and the boys find themselves getting wet. Eventually, they are herded into a rectangular room, where it is dry. It is in this room (presumably a gas chamber) that Bruno and Shmuel meet their end.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Bruno and Shmuel become friends at the fence of a concentration camp in Nazi Germany. Bruno is a German boy while Shmuel is a captive Jewish boy in a Nazi death camp. One day Shmuel confides in Bruno that he is not able to find his father. Shmuel is very worried and saddened by this. Bruno, as his friend, decides that he needs to help to find Shmuel's father. He hatches a plan to wear some camp pajamas to sneak inside the fence to help his friend search for the missing man. One day, Bruno changes his clothes into pajamas and sneaks through an opening in the fence. He is now inside the concentration camp. The innocence of these two boys made it impossible to foretell what was going to happen to them.

As the two companions are searching for Shmuel's father, who has most likely been executed, the Nazi guards round up the prisoners and take them into a large room. The large room, of course, is a gas chamber and the boys are killed.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team