In The Boy in The Striped Pajamas, why doesn't Bruno understand the nature of his father's job?

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Boy in The Striped Pajamas reveals the disparity between appearance and reality. To Bruno, his father is "one of the good soldiers" who has "an impressive uniform and ...everyone calls him Commandant and does whatever he says." Bruno does notice his grandmother's displeasure at her own son's occupation but Bruno puts everything into his own context and sees only one perspective. He sees the armbands and muses over whether he would prefer to wear one like his father's (the swastika) or one like Shmuel's (the star), feeling a little offended that no one has ever asked him if he would like to wear one. Because of the protected environment he has grown up in, Bruno can't even make sense of what Shmuel says, thinking he must be exaggerating and "he didn't really believe that eleven people could live in the same room together." Bruno cannot imagine a cruel world or actions that have no logical reason so he takes everything at face value.

Bruno's questions that he poses to his father, are always avoided or answered vaguely and unsatisfactorily but there is not much he can do about it and he forms his own opinions based on his limited understanding. He is forbidden from exploring - one of his favorite occupations - with "No exceptions"- but has no idea what his parents are trying to protect him from. His parents' lack of communication is what will eventually lead to his death as he innocently joins Shmuel on the "other side of the fence" and seals his fate. 

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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

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