set of striped pajamas behind a barbed wire fence

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

by John Boyne

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Chapter 11 Summary

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This chapter goes back to describe an evening in Berlin several months earlier, when the Fury comes to Bruno’s house and everything changes. Father returns home one day in “a state of great excitement” and announces that the Fury has invited himself to dinner on Thursday, two days from now, because he has something of great importance to discuss with Father. Bruno asks, “Who’s the Fury?” Father responds by telling him he is pronouncing the name wrong and proceeds to pronounce it correctly for him.

Although he tries, Bruno still cannot say the Fury’s name correctly. When Father does not believe that he really does not know who the Fury is, Gretel interjects in exasperation, “He runs the country, idiot.” Mother, who seems very nervous about the Fury’s upcoming visit, worries how she will get everything ready in time.

On Thursday, an hour before the Fury is scheduled to arrive, Bruno and Gretel receive “a rare invitation into Father’s office.” Although the children will not actually dine with the adults, Father reminds them about the importance of this evening’s visit and sets down a number of ground rules for their behavior. Three quarters of an hour later, the Fury arrives with a tall, blond woman, “the most beautiful woman [Bruno has] ever seen in his life.” After greetings are exchanged and the children are introduced, the Fury, whom Bruno thinks is “the rudest guest [he has] ever seen,” marches straight into the dining room and takes Father’s seat at the head of the table.

The blond woman, whose name is Eva, stays behind to talk to the children. The Fury imperiously “roar[s]” at her to come join him, “clicking his fingers as if she were some sort of puppy dog.” The woman, who in contrast to her partner is very kind, ignores him and continues her conversation with Bruno and Gretel until she is done; she does not seem the least bit intimidated by the Fury.

The Fury and Eva stay about two hours, and Bruno watches from his window as they are leaving. He notices that the Fury does not open the car door for Eva, nor does he join his companion when she pauses to thank Mother and say goodbye. Bruno thinks that the Fury is “a horrible man.”

That night, Bruno overhears his parents talking, as their voices are “unusually loud.” Father says something about having to leave Berlin to maintain his position at his job. Mother, who apparently does not think the place to which they will be going will be good for the children, protests. Father silences Mother, intimating that he has no choice if he wants to advance his career and remain in the good graces of his superiors. A few days later, Bruno learns they will be moving to Out-With.

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