set of striped pajamas behind a barbed wire fence

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

by John Boyne

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What is revealed about the relationship between Bruno's grandparents?

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In Chapter 8, Bruno recalls the events that took place on the last Christmas he spent with his grandparents. Bruno says that his father wears his fancy new uniform on Christmas Day, and the Commandant's father, Matthias, is very proud of his son's accomplishments. Bruno's grandmother, Nathalie, is the only person not impressed by the Commandant's uniform. Nathalie criticizes her son and refers to him as "a puppet on a string" who doesn't understand the real meaning of what his uniform represents. Nathalie, who is ethnically Irish, is ashamed that her son supports the Nazi cause. Matthias, Bruno's grandfather, essentially tells his wife to calm down and then mentions how proud he is to see his son hold such a valuable position in the Third Reich. Bruno's grandmother argues with her husband and calls him foolish for supporting the Nazi regime. Nathalie loses her temper and criticizes the Commandant and Matthias by commenting that all they care about is their fancy uniforms and medals, while they ignore the fact they are committing terrible atrocities. As Bruno's grandparents leave, Nathalie yells, "Ashamed!" and Matthias shouts, "Patriot!" (Boyne 93).

Matthias and Nathalie's relationship is controversial. They both have different political views and disagree with their son's position as a Nazi Commandant. Matthias is proud that his son supports the "Motherland" and the Nazi cause, while Nathalie is ashamed. They argue and raise their voices during the family gathering which portrays the major rift in their relationship.

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