The young and innocent son of a high-ranking Nazi Commandant, Bruno finds his idyllic life changed one day when he returns home and sees the maid and butler packing their things. When he persists in asking his mother why they must move, she finally answers curtly, "We don't have a choice in this."
Here are three external events that occur in the narrative after Bruno arrives at his new home:
1. Dissatisfied with the family's new location, Bruno finds himself isolated, living now in "an empty, desolate place" rather than a bustling city where he has many friends. When he complains to his mother, she tells him, "We don’t have the luxury of thinking.... Some people make all the decisions for us”; further, she says that they will have to “make the best of a bad situation.”
2. After Bruno and his sister notice the buildings and their smokestacks and the desolate-looking ground, in Chapter Five Bruno is invited into his father's handsome office where his father asks him if he likes their new home. In tears, Bruno tells his father that he wants to return to Berlin; however, he does ask him what goes on in that fenced area behind their home, wondering who the people in the "grey striped pajamas with a grey striped cap on their heads” are doing.
3. In Chapter Ten, Bruno's curiosity gets the better of him as he ignores his father and mother's exhortation to never go near the camp, and he walks along the barbed wire fence. At one point, he sees a hollow-eyed boy whose name he learns is Schmuel; ironically, they discover as they talk that they both have the same birthday. This meeting of Schmuel turns out to be a fateful one for young Bruno.