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

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas book cover
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What themes are explored in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas?

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Hollis Sanders eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The two major themes of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas are friendship and innocence. Bruno and Shmuel share such a desire for camaraderie that they form one from literally two different sides of a fence. Owing partly to Bruno's naivete, the two are able to become fast friends, even if the friendship is doomed to end in tragedy.

The theme of innocence is very evident in the protagonist, Bruno. Due to the neglect and purposeful obfuscation of information on the part of his parents, Bruno has no idea of the true nature of Auschwitz, and even refers to prison clothes as "striped pajamas." Shmuel has obviously lost his illusion of childlike innocence and finds an incredible comfort when he sees it in Bruno. The book assigns a dark significance to the folly of this innocence, as it eventually causes Bruno's death.

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In this story of innocence and misunderstanding, Bruno loses his life alongside his friend Shmuel in part because his parents tried to protect him from the awful truth.

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bashaire | Student

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