set of striped pajamas behind a barbed wire fence

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

by John Boyne

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How did Bruno and Shmuel die in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas?

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Bruno and Shmuel die at the end of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas when Bruno sneaks into the concentration camp to visit Shmuel, and they are sent to a gas chamber by Nazi soldiers. They are tricked into going into the gas chamber by being told that they are going to be taking a shower. The boys are not seen again after they enter.

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In the final chapter of the novel, Bruno sneaks underneath the massive fence surrounding the Auschwitz concentration camp in an attempt to help Shmuel find his father and is herded into a gas chamber, where he dies alongside his best friend. Bruno resolves to help his friend Shmuel find his father and views the opportunity as their final adventure together before he travels back to Berlin with his family. Shmuel is able to acquire a prison uniform resembling striped pajamas for Bruno to wear and lifts the fence so he can crawl underneath.

Once Bruno enters the camp, they begin their investigation, and he witnesses the horrors of the concentration camp for the first time. After searching in vain for an hour and a half, Bruno and Shmuel do not find his father but are herded into a large group by Nazi officers and instructed to march to the gas chambers, which resemble spacious showers. The innocent boys are too young and naive to recognize that they are in serious danger and share a tender moment just before the poisonous gas is released into the chamber. Once the chamber door is slammed shut and chaos ensues, Bruno holds onto Shmuel's hand tight and does not let go. The boys die clutching onto each other for comfort, and their friendship endures through the horrific experience.

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In The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Bruno and Shmuel die together in the gas chambers of Auschwitz. Bruno, the son of the camp commandant, is still too young and too naive to understand what goes on here, and still thinks of his interactions with Shmuel as all of a bit of a game.

Nonetheless, Bruno has developed a close friendship with Shmuel and wants to do whatever he can to help him look for his father. Although Bruno still doesn't comprehend what Auschwitz is and what it stands for, he does at least understand why Shmuel would want to find his father. Tragically, Bruno's fateful decision to help eventually leads to his death in the gas chamber.

Having resolved to help his best friend, Bruno digs his way under the fence that separates the grounds of the family home from the concentration camp. He brings with him a spare set of pajamas, which makes him look like a prisoner when he puts them on. Because of this, Bruno is mistaken for a prisoner by the camp guards and herded along with Shmuel and other prisoners into a gas chamber. There the two friends perish together, holding on to one another right to the end.

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Bruno is a nine-year-old boy from whose perspective The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne is told. The story starts in Berlin, but Bruno's father is a Commandant in the Nazi army and gets promoted by Hitler himself. This promotion comes with a new assignment: the commandant of the concentration (death) camp called Auschwitz. Bruno is naive and tells the story just as he sees and experiences it.

Bruno is out exploring one day and discovers another little boy sitting morosely on the other side of the fence. His name is Schmuel and he is exactly the same age as Bruno; they even share the same birthday. Their relationship continues over time, but eventually Bruno is going to be moving back to Berlin with his sister and mother and he wants to play at least one time on the same side of the fence with his best (and only) friend, Schmuel.

Schmuel has been unable to find his father (we deduce that his father has been exterminated), so Bruno agrees to come inside and help his friend look for clues. Schmuel brings Bruno a uniform (which Bruno refers to as "striped pajamas"), and Bruno fits right in since his head had been shaved because of lice--though he is "fatter" because he has, of course, been eating well.

The boys discover nothing as they explore the camp, but just as Bruno is considering sneaking back under the fence and go home, some soldiers come and round the two boys and some others up and herd them into 

a long room that was surprisingly warm and must have been very securely built because no rainwas getting in anywhere. In fact, it felt completely airtight.

Bruno assumes the soldiers are just being nice and trying to keep this group from standing in the rain and catching colds. Bruno and Schmuel are glad to have each other as they wait together in the dark, neither realizing what is about to happen to them. 

The next line of the novel says this:

Nothing more was ever heard of Bruno after that.

Obviously what happened is that Bruno, Schmuel, and the others the soldiers rounded up that day were gassed to death and presumably their bodies were then burned.

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In The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, what actually happened to the boys at the end? Did Bruno die?

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne is historical in nature but is a fictional story which reminds readers of the disaster and tragedy of Nazi occupation. Bruno must move because of his father's profession which, in itself, is nothing unusual but he would thrive in a situation where he is allowed to develop and mature at his own pace. He is forbidden from exploring and making new friends is impossible. It is significant that it is Bruno's father's behavior which, in fact, directs Bruno's actions. The boys are thrust together by circumstance and this story indicates the tragedy and futility of war and also highlights the similarities between these innocent children, regardless of which side they are supposedly on. Bruno and Shmuel come from worlds so far removed from each other that an event of this nature should not be possible. However, John Boyne skillfully points out through Bruno's character, there are more things that unite Bruno and Shmuel than there are things that separate them. 

Bruno's father, a powerful Nazi Commandant, has convinced himself that "Those people...well, they're not people at all..." (chapter 5). This is ironic considering that Shmuel is Bruno's only friend with whom, if his father is correct, Bruno has "nothing in common." However, Bruno and Shmuel share an unexplained bond, which starts with them sharing a birthday. After a year of meeting and chatting, Bruno is due to return to Berlin and so he and Shmuel discuss the possibility of him going to Shmuel's side of the fence. Bruno's hair is short, having been shaved to avoid lice and, as Shmuel points out, he is a little "fatter," but, otherwise, in a "pair of striped pajamas" he would look essentially the same as Shmuel and they can go on a "final adventure" in the camp. Bruno is excited at the prospect of "exploring" and Shmuel is anxious that Bruno will help him look for "Papa," who has apparently gone missing. The boys sense that this will seal their friendship and is a good way to say "goodbye" (chapter 18). The reader senses that this foreshadows more sinister events to follow.  

Bruno is shocked that he has to walk barefoot and that he sees mostly sad faces; the camp is nothing like he expected. He and Shmuel find no trace or "evidence" of Shmuel's papa either so Bruno is about to make his way back to the fence and go home when a whistle sounds and the boys find themselves in the middle of a crowd. They are ushered into an "airtight" room and Bruno tells Shmuel he is his best friend and holds his hand but has no idea whether Shmuel replies because "at that moment, there was a loud gasp from all the marchers..." and Bruno can hear nothing. He wonders about the darkness but in his innocence presumes it is related to the fact that it is raining outside. After that, "Nothing more was ever heard of Bruno..." The reader knows what has happened and takes solace in the fact that Bruno is not afraid in his last moments and that Shmuel has his friend with him. The boys have evidently been gassed. 

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In The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, what actually happened to the boys at the end? Did Bruno die?

In the novel, Bruno is last seen standing in the gas chamber with Shmuel, holding hands and waiting. Reference is made to "the chaos that followed," which can easily be taken to mean the chaos of the inmates being gassed. In the epilogue, Bruno's father, Ralf, finds his clothing by the fence and figures out what must have happened. Bruno never appears in the epilogue of the novel, so his fate is strongly implied but ultimately unknown.

In the film, the beginning of the gassing scene is actually shown, with guards pouring Zyklon B capsules into the chamber and the prisoners starting to panic. Bruno's father finds the empty dormitory and breaks down, shouting Bruno's name. It is possible but very unlikely that Ralf is able to save Bruno in the film, as Zyklon B is fast-acting.

Both versions end, in the most literal interpretation, with both Bruno and Schmuel dying in the gas chamber.

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What happens to Bruno and Shmuel in the conclusion of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas?

At the conclusion of the story, Bruno and Shmuel die in one of the gas chambers at Auschwitz.

While looking for Shmuel's father, Bruno finally sees what the camps for the Jewish prisoners are like. He is distressed when he realizes that everything he had ever imagined about the camps were wrong. For example, there are no elderly people sitting outside in rocking chairs, telling stories about their youth. There are also no fruit and vegetable stalls, let alone the cafes Bruno is used to seeing in Berlin. He realizes sadly that there are no children playing, either.

What Bruno sees are starving, emaciated groups of people. Their eyes are sunken, and many of them are crying. Meanwhile, laughing soldiers torment the people with their guns. Bruno does not like what he sees and suddenly wants to go home. He decides to stay, however, after Shmuel reminds him of his promise to help find his father.

So, the two boys continue searching. After a while, they give up their search, and Bruno again announces that he would like to go home. As the boys speak, soldiers blow shrill whistles, and everyone is herded together. Bruno estimates that there must have been more than a hundred people in the group. Meanwhile, Shmuel tells Bruno that groups of people often go on marches. However, in an ominous confession, Shmuel admits that he never sees these groups of people again.

Since he is in the middle of the crowd, Bruno can do nothing, except to march alongside Shmuel and everyone else. By this time, the rain is pouring, and the boys find themselves getting wet. Eventually, they are herded into a rectangular room, where it is dry. It is in this room (presumably a gas chamber) that Bruno and Shmuel meet their end.

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What happens to Bruno and Shmuel in the conclusion of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas?

Bruno and Shmuel become friends at the fence of a concentration camp in Nazi Germany. Bruno is a German boy while Shmuel is a captive Jewish boy in a Nazi death camp. One day Shmuel confides in Bruno that he is not able to find his father. Shmuel is very worried and saddened by this. Bruno, as his friend, decides that he needs to help to find Shmuel's father. He hatches a plan to wear some camp pajamas to sneak inside the fence to help his friend search for the missing man. One day, Bruno changes his clothes into pajamas and sneaks through an opening in the fence. He is now inside the concentration camp. The innocence of these two boys made it impossible to foretell what was going to happen to them.

As the two companions are searching for Shmuel's father, who has most likely been executed, the Nazi guards round up the prisoners and take them into a large room. The large room, of course, is a gas chamber and the boys are killed.

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In The Boy in The Striped Pajamas, how do Bruno and Shmuel die?

As different as the lives of Bruno and Shmuel are in The Boy in The Striped Pajamas, they suffer the same cruel fate, highlighting the futility of war and how no "fence" can protect anyone, especially when the evil is to be found on the outside of the fence, as much as inside it. Bruno's family, except his father will shortly return to Berlin. 

Bruno has forged a friendship with Shmuel and they find many things to talk about although Bruno never understands the extent of Shmuel's suffering as he sits on his side of the fence. Eventually, he ventures into the camp shortly before his expected return to Berlin. Shmuel brings him a pair of "pajamas" and remarks how they look almost "exactly the same.". With his shaved head and now in his own "pajamas," Bruno blends in and the reader is chilled by Bruno's recollection of his dressing-up at his grandmother's house; "You wear the right outfit and you feel like the person you’re pretending to be," he remembers his grandmother saying. 

Bruno discovers that the idyllic life he perceived is nowhere to be found. He longs to go home but cannot disappoint his friend and the boys search fruitlessly for Shmuel's father. Just as they are returning to the fence, they are caught up in events and are ushered into a room that is “surprisingly warm.” The "best friend(s) for life" hold tight to one another as they, along with the crowd, are gassed.   

Although it may seem inconceivable to some that any such event could ever have happened and some people are offended by any suggestion that Nazis suffered as Jews did, Boyne plays with the idea that it could have happened to anyone; the tables could have been turned and the boys could have been anyone's children! 

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How did Bruno die in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas?

Bruno dies in the Auschwitz gas chamber.

On the day before Bruno leaves for Berlin, he agrees to help his friend Shmuel find his father, who has gone missing in the Auschwitz concentration camp. Shmuel manages to get Bruno a prison uniform, which Bruno puts on, and he proceeds to climb underneath the massive fence surrounding the camp. Once Bruno sneaks into Auschwitz, he tries to help Shmuel locate his father. The two boys try their hardest to look for clues and explore the camp for an extended period of time to no avail. Bruno and Shmuel are then suddenly herded into a group of prisoners and led to the camp's gas chamber. Once Bruno and Shmuel enter the gas chamber, they embrace each other one last time before inhaling the deadly gas.

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