What is a quote that demonstrates Shmuel as being ignorant in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas? Why does it show that Shmuel is ignorant?

Shmuel is shown as ignorant in chapter 18 when he tells Bruno that his father is missing. Their subsequent conversation reveals his ignorance that his father is almost certainly dead. More generally, he seems unaware that the Nazis are killing prisoners, not just abusing them. Another example of his ignorance is his suggestion that Bruno enter and help him search. He does not know that he and Bruno could be killed.

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Throughout the novel, Bruno is depicted as far more innocent and naïve than Shmuel. There are numerous examples in which Bruno indicates his general lack of awareness of the wartime abuse of Jewish people, and more specifically his ignorance of his father’s duties as Commandant. Because Shmuel has had to...

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Throughout the novel, Bruno is depicted as far more innocent and naïve than Shmuel. There are numerous examples in which Bruno indicates his general lack of awareness of the wartime abuse of Jewish people, and more specifically his ignorance of his father’s duties as Commandant. Because Shmuel has had to endure persecution and mistreatment, he has gained considerable knowledge about the Nazis’ policies and actions. Toward the end of the book, however, the limits of Shmuel’s knowledge become clear.

In chapter 18, after Shmuel has not appeared at their meeting place for several days, Bruno encounters him again. Shmuel tells him that he has not come because he was upset about his father. He tells Bruno, “We can’t find him.” When Bruno wonders how he could have gotten “lost,” Shmuel continues that his father

went on work duty with some other men and none of them have come back.

These lines and the rest of their conversation about this problem show Shmuel’s ignorance about the executions that are taking place in Auschwitz. He seems unaware that the Nazis have been killing prisoners in the gas chambers.

As the boys discuss their plans, Shmuel agrees that Bruno will blend in among the other boys if he is dressed like them. The narrator ironically conveys the error that both boys are making when they agree that Shmuel will bring striped pajamas for Bruno to wear and that together the boys will search for the missing father. To them, “it seemed like a very sensible plan.”

Shmuel thus shows his ignorance of the danger for Bruno if he cannot be distinguished from the prisoners. This ignorance proves fatal when Bruno is rounded up and taken to the gas chambers with the prisoners.

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