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

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas book cover
Start Your Free Trial

What're Shmuel's personal qualities?

Expert Answers info

Greg Jackson, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

bookM.A. from University of Massachusetts-Boston


calendarEducator since 2018

write1,815 answers

starTop subjects are History, Literature, and Law and Politics

Shmuel is a kind and precocious boy. Even though he is living through the horrors of confinement in a concentration camp, he does not speak much of the indignities he is surely living through on a continuing basis. Even though he has suffered so much, Shmuel is an understanding and empathetic child. He listens patiently to all of Bruno's many complaints. What we see in Shmuel is a high level of resilience which is particularly remarkable for a boy his age in the circumstances he is in. He has not given in to despair or cynicism the way many others might in his situation.

Shmuel is also a loyal friend to Bruno. He yearns for the companionship of a friend his age, even if their lives are vastly different. He is even forgiving of Bruno after he betrays Shmuel. Although he confides very little to Bruno, he is also very patient and understanding of his friend's situation, even though it pales in comparison to his own.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2017

write11,809 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

Shmuel’s much more worldly than Bruno, and not simply because of the extreme hardship that he and his family have been forced to endure. Despite being the exact same age as Bruno, Shmuel’s more educationally advanced. His mother was a teacher and it was she who taught him German. Shmuel knows a lot more than Bruno about the outside world; this gives him a broader understanding of the war and the true nature of the Nazis’ persecution of the Jews.

Shmuel acts with kindness towards Bruno and considers him a true friend, even though he knows that his father is the camp commandant. His kindness is also shown by his love for animals; he wants to work in a zoo when he grows up. On the whole, one would have to say that Shmuel’s is a very strong, mature personality for someone of his age. It’s truly remarkable that he’s managed to retain a sense of decency and humanity despite the myriad horrors to which he’s subjected on a daily basis.

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial