What is the main conflict in the novel The Boy in the Striped Pajamas?

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There are several conflicts, both internal and external, throughout the novel The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. However, the main conflict centers around Bruno and Shmuel’s friendship. Bruno is the son of a Nazi Commandant, and Shmuel is a Jewish prisoner in Auschwitz. Bruno was raised to believe that Germans were more superior than any other ethnicity, and his father is in charge of the systematic annihilation of the Jewish prisoners. Shmuel is in a very dangerous situation, and his well-being is threatened each day. Shmuel suffers from malnutrition and is also subjected to physical abuse throughout the novel. Bruno risks being severely punished for socializing and becoming friends with Shmuel. Shmuel risks physical punishment which could be life threatening if he is caught befriending Bruno. Unfortunately, the dangerous, inhumane environment takes the lives of both Bruno and Shmuel but is unable to break their friendship and loving bond.

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