Where does Bruno's family move in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne?

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Chapter one of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne is set in Berlin, Germany. Bruno and his family--mother, father, older sister Gretel, and nine-year-old Bruno--live in a large house which Bruno enjoys exploring. They all have friends in Berlin, and Bruno's father's parents live quite near them, as well. In this chapter, Bruno is surprised to learn that he and his family will be moving very soon.

We learn that Hitler had come to dinner at Bruno's house and gave Bruno's father a promotion; Bruno's father is now a commandant and has a new job. The story is told through the eyes of young Bruno, so we kind of have to figure out where they are moving. Here are our clues:

  • Bruno assumes they are not moving very far away, but his mother says it is quite a long way. Bruno still does not quite realize what this means as he approaches his new bedroom window for the first time:

He walked slowly towards it, hoping that from here he might be able to see all the way back to Berlin and his house and the streets around it and the tables where the people sat and drank their frothy drinks and told each other hilarious stories. 

  • They have moved into a house right next to a place Bruno calls "Out-With," but everyone in his family tells him he is pronouncing it incorrectly.
  • The place next door is some kind of camp, and the people inside it all wear a kind of uniform (which Bruno calls "striped pajamas").
  • Gretel later tells Bruno that the people in the camp are all Jews, their enemies. 

Putting all the clues together, we can surmise that Bruno's family has moved from Berlin, Germany, to southern Poland, where the Auschwitz concentration camp was located. They live in isolation near the camp, not near a specific city. 

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