What is the main idea of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas?

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The main over-arching idea of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas deals with the innocence of childhood and the value of friendship.  Set in Auschwitz and told from the perspective of a Nazi Commander's young son, the main character Bruno shows the reader how friendship can develop even in the unlikeliest circumstances--in this case between a Nazi's son and a young concentration camp inmate.  Bruno shows the reader what Auschwitz, which he called "Out-With," must have looked to a pair of innocent eyes.  He finds a playmate in Shmuel, but instead of focusing on their differences or even the fact of the fence which separated them, Bruno and Shmuel bond over having the same birthday.  The Boy in The Striped Pajamas reinforces the idea of friendship overcoming the worst possible kind of barriers.

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