set of striped pajamas behind a barbed wire fence

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

by John Boyne

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Student Question

In The Boy In the Striped Pajamas, how does Gretel explain their window view?

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In Chapter 4, Bruno and Gretel are staring out of Bruno's window looking at the Auschwitz concentration camp and wondering where they are. The two children carry on a conversation in an attempt to make sense of everything going on around them. At first, Gretel has difficulty explaining what she sees outside. She looks at the huts and comments that "they must be modern types of houses." (Boyne 33) After looking for several more minutes, Gretel tells Bruno that she believes that it is the countryside. Gretel explains that she learned in geography class that the countryside is full of hard-working people who grow food to sell to people in the city. Bruno says that it can't be the countryside because there are no animals. Gretel admits that it cannot be a farm, which means they are not in the countryside. As they sit on Bruno's bed, they notice that there are thousands of people moving around and standing in groups. Gretel suggests that it must be some sort of rehearsal. She tells her brother that she wouldn't want to play with any of the dirty looking children on the other side of the fence, and walks to her room without forming a conclusion as to what is outside their window.

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