Why does Bruno describe Lieutenant Kotler as "just plain nasty" in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Bruno makes this comment about Lt. Kotler in Chapter Seven after witnessing the odious term that Kotler calls the Jewish prisoner Pavel twice and the vitriolic tone with which he addresses the older Pavel, who is the cook for the family.

"There really was no other way to dress it up; he was just plain nasty."

Another reason that Bruno finds Kotler "nasty" is the way that he conducts himself; for, Bruno finds him very arrogant. He stands outside the house as those he is in charge of it, and he talks deprecatingly to Bruno as those he were just a small child. In addition, Bruno disapproves of how his sister Gretel, who is not thirteen, flirts with Kotler. Later, he hears his mother, who does not know that anyone is listening, call Kotler "precious" and she laughs at his remarks and jokes much more heartily than she does at his father's. 
One day as a dog approached the fence barklng loudly, Kotler "marched right over to the dog and shot it," Bruno observes.

Further in the narrative, after Shmuel gets into trouble for eating the meat that Bruno denies having given him, Lt. Kotler beats Shmuel severely back at the camp. Certainly, there is no question that Kotler is a cruel, sadistic, and spiteful young man, who has become thoroughly indoctrinated in Nazism.

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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

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