set of striped pajamas behind a barbed wire fence

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

by John Boyne

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Discussion Topic

Bruno's behaviors, qualities, and examples of kindness and patience in "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas."


Bruno in "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" exhibits kindness and patience through his actions and qualities. He befriends Shmuel, a boy in a concentration camp, and treats him with compassion and empathy. Bruno's innocence and genuine concern for Shmuel highlight his inherent goodness. He often displays patience by listening to Shmuel's stories and showing understanding despite their difficult circumstances.

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Can you describe Bruno's behaviors and qualities in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas?

In the novel, The Boy With the Striped Pajamas, Bruno is a youngster who is beautifully naive and innocent as the world around him is overrun by the evil the Nazis in World War II. Although his parents try to protect him by identifying places that are "off limits," Bruno is childlike in his need to investigate forbidden territories and to test his boundaries. The child within also lets Bruno's heart make decisions for him. For instance, Shmuel and Bruno become fast friends because Bruno is able to see someone very much like himself, ignoring the fence and Shmuel's unusual attire. When Bruno meets Hitler, his heart tells him that he does not like the man; and as a guileless youngster, without needing a logical reason for his decision, Bruno cannot warm up to "the Fury," as his sister does.

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Is Bruno in "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" kind and patient? Why?

Kind AND patient?  Maybe not.  

I'm not sure about the patient part.  I would say that as the novel progresses, Bruno does become more patient than he was at the beginning.  This is evidenced by his willingness to spend time talking to a boy who lives on the opposite side of a prison camp fence time and time again. At the beginning of the book though, I'm not sold on him being patient.  Bruno does not want to move to the new house (which is expected), and after arriving in "Out-With" he complains a lot about being bored and not having any kids his age around.  While this is something expected from a nine-year-old, it doesn't exactly scream patient. 

He is kind for sure.  He is willing to spend time simply talking to a boy that he can't actually play any real games with—definitely no sports. Also Bruno has a heart for helping Shmuel find his dad.  However naive Bruno may be about what is actually happening inside that fence, he has to have some apprehension about crossing over a fence. What nine-year-old wouldn't?  But despite that, Bruno decides that helping his friend find his father is important.  So he goes, and pays for it with his life. 

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What are three instances where Bruno exhibits kindness and patience in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas?

I think that one of the best examples of Bruno being kind and patient would be when he is open to listening to Pavel.  At first, Bruno dismisses Pavel as one who has no real medical value.  However, Bruno's patience and kindness reveal themselves as he understands that Pavel once used to be a doctor and thus has something meaningful to say when Bruno is in pain.  Another similar example is seen when Bruno understands Maria to be more than a "servant."  His kindness and patience are on display when he rebukes his sister for not seeing Maria as more than just someone who cooks and cleans up after the children.  Bruno's kindness and patience are evident in how he sees people as more than their status and external conditions might dictate.  One of the best examples of his kindness and patience would be when he remains loyal to Shmuel.  In the midst of their looking for Shmuel's father, Bruno is scared.  However, he does not let his fear dictate his actions.  Rather, Bruno shows kindness in how he supports his friend.  He shows patience in how he does not abandon his friend in a time of need.  He shows care when he takes Shmuel's little hand in his, even when they are marched into the gas chambers.  In telling him that they will be best friends forever, Bruno displays the care and patience so evidently absent and simultaneously present in so many during the Holocaust.

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