The Boy in the Striped Pajamas Questions and Answers
by John Boyne

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What is the message of the novel The Boy in the Striped Pajamas?

The message of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is that we are all more alike than we are different. The innocent friendship of the Jewish boy Shmuel and the Nazi's son Bruno, set against the horrific backdrop of the Holocaust, highlights the fact that divisions between people are arbitrary. This book also comments on people's ability to rationalize evil actions committed against "other" people. Bruno's family rationalizes their own participation in the Nazi regime—they are responsible for countless deaths—but only feel the true atrocity of the gas chambers when their own son is killed by them.

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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas promotes a message of interpersonal compassion, friendship, and tolerance. It further suggests that the mistakes of one generation need not taint or be extended to the children of the next generation. The innocence and ignorance of children may keep them from forming discriminatory beliefs and acting violently, those qualities cannot save them from violent practices that others inflict upon them.

In John Boyne ’s novel, Bruno’s parents apparently have shielded him from the harshest realities of war. The exaggerated innocence of Bruno’s character is necessary...

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smaishak | Student

The message of the novel The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is that children are not born with hatred and racism, they are taught it. Children are innocent until someone shows them how not to be. In the novel the young boy just wants to be friends with the other boy on the other side of the fence. He doesn’t understand that the people on the other side of the fence are the ones responsible for the killings of his friends.