I have to write an essay from Bruno's empathetic view, but I'm not sure how to go about this. Any help is appreciated.

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

An examination of Bruno's character will first identify his inclinations. While his sister Gretel is cruel, dominant, and oppressive, Bruno is sensitive to others' conditions and has a very sympathetic nature. Nevertheless, Gretel and Bruno are both naive in their perspectives, for they react to only the circumstances in the microcosm of their young and limited world. Thus, it through this narrowed perspective that the essay should be structured. Bruno understands nothing about the repercussions of World War I, or the economic state that made Germany ripe for the likes of Adolf Hitler. All that Bruno understands are narrowed interpersonal relations and the treatment of people as human beings, and this, then, should be the focus of the tone of the essay. 

One thesis that could be used for this essay could be something like this:

Bruno, sensitive and compassionate, is baffled by the unmitigated cruelty experienced by the unfortunates confined inside the fence, so he reaches out to others.

Here are some incidents from the narrative of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas that should be useful in the composition of the essay:

  • Unlike Gretel, Bruno is sensitive to Maria's situation in their home and treats her with kindness and listens to her, going deeper than her words. (Ch. 6)
  • When Bruno injures himself, the inmate working in the kitchen cleans and dresses his wound because Bruno's mother is out shopping. Bruno is, nevertheless, worried about his injury. "You're not a doctor," he accuses the waiter of their house. "Yes, I am," Pavel replies. This arouses Bruno's curiosity as he notices, too, that Pavel must have had a beard for some time before coming to Out-With. Bruno's curiosity is aroused and he feels some wonder that a doctor has been reduced to a waiter. (Ch.7)
  • When Bruno ventures near the fence and the people he has seen from a distance, he approaches a boy of about his age. The boy's skin is a grey color and he is thin with a "pair of sad eyes." Bruno's kind nature leads him to talk to the this sad boy,

"Bruno was sure that he had never seen a skinnier or sadder boy in his life, but he decided that he had better talk to him." (Ch.10)

  • Bruno befriends Schmuel, who later is brought to the house to help Pavel because his little fingers can clean small things. Bruno offers him some food, but denies this when Lt. Kotler catches Schmuel eating. Poor Schmuel is beaten, and Bruno feels terrible, apologizing later for letting his friend down.
  • At special dinner, Pavel is so nervous around the cruel Kotler and shakes so much when pouring the wine that he spills it on Kotler, and is punished for having done so. Bruno goes to bed still upset about this incident. (Ch.13)
  • When Schmuel tells Bruno that he does not know what has happened to his father, Bruno offers to help him look. (Ch.18)
Read the study guide:
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

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