Who is the boy in the striped pyjamas?

Asked on by bashaire

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I think that this becomes one of the most essential questions in the novel.  The fact is that "the boy in the striped pajamas" can be seen as both Bruno and Shmuel.  When Bruno first notices people like Shmuel, he makes the claim that they are wearing "pajamas."  Yet, in order for Bruno to live up to the commitment of friendship with Shmuel, it becomes evident that he must don his own "pajamas" in order to go to the other side of the fence.  It is at this point where both of them represent "the boy in the striped pajamas."  It does not matter than one is German and the other Jewish.  It does not matter that one is a direct target of the Nazi practices, and the other is the son of one who is in the position of power of said practices.  It does not matter that they are different.  At the moment when Bruno crosses over the fence, they are "the boy in the striped pajamas."  They are the same. It might be this point that Boyne is making.  Underneath the cosmetic exterior, there is a degree of sameness that should enable people being brought together and not keeping them apart. 

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