What is the most important dialogue in the novel The Boy in the Striped Pajamas?  

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are numerous scenes that include important dialogue throughout the novel The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. One of the most significant conversations takes place in Chapter 4, between Bruno and his sister, Gretel. In Chapter 3, Gretel explains to Bruno that their new house is called Out-With. In Chapter 4, Gretel follows Bruno into his room and looks out of his window for the first time. Gretel looks at the people through the window and asks Bruno, who they are and what sort of place is this. Bruno tells her that it's not as nice as home, and when Gretel asks where all the girls are, he says that they must be in a different part. Boyne then gives a description of the massive fence surrounding the small homes and buildings. Gretel tells Bruno that she doesn't understand what kind of place they are in, and Bruno mentions how nasty it looks. Gretel says to Bruno that she thinks the huts are modern types of houses, then concludes that they are in the countryside. Gretel elaborates as to why they are in the countryside, but recalls that she learned in geography class that there were farmers and animals in the country. Bruno disagrees with her and brings up the fact that there are no animals in sight and mentions the dismal condition of the ground. Gretel admits that they are probably not in the countryside, and asks Bruno, who all those people are and what are they doing. Boyne then gives a description of the people wheeling wheelbarrows and working like they are in a chain gang. When Bruno tells Gretel to "Look over there," he points to a group of children who are getting yelled at by soldiers (Boyne 37). Gretel says that it must be some sort of rehearsal and tells Bruno that she wouldn't want to play with the dirty children she sees. Bruno agrees that it does, in fact, look dirty, and says that maybe the children don't bathe. Gretel sarcastically asks, "What kind of people don't have baths?" (Boyne 38). Bruno responds by saying, people who don't have any hot water. After Gretel leaves Bruno's room, Bruno notices that all the people are wearing the same pair of striped pajamas.

I feel that the dialogue between Gretel and Bruno throughout Chapter 4 is the most important in the novel because their conversation reveals that they are living next to a concentration camp. Boyne uses their dialogue to describe the physical features of their environment, as well as the activities the prisoners are engaged in. The fence, housing, landscape, and the attire of the prisoners is mentioned throughout this chapter. The audience can surmise that the name Out-With is a mispronunciation of Auschwitz from the previous chapter, following Bruno and Gretel's dialogue in Chapter 4.

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