set of striped pajamas behind a barbed wire fence

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

by John Boyne

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Key Plot Points in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Summary:

Key plot points in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas include Bruno’s family moving to Auschwitz due to his father's job, Bruno befriending Shmuel, a boy in the concentration camp, and their tragic plan to find Shmuel's father, which leads to their deaths in a gas chamber. The story highlights the innocence of childhood amidst the horrors of the Holocaust.

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What is the climax of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas?

The climax of a text is the most intense point of the drama. In John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, the climax occurs when Bruno and Shmuel enter a gas chamber in the concentration camp.

The tension begins to become climactic when Bruno and Shmuel realize that they cannot find Shmuel’s father. Bruno begins to get worried about being outside in the cold and about being in such a strange environment that is so different from his own. He tells Shmuel several times that he thinks it is best if he goes home. But he knows that Shmuel is very upset about not finding his father and he feels bad for his friend. He also feels a rush of admiration for Shmuel and realizes that he is his best friend in the world. In the time it takes for him to think these thoughts, it is too late for him to leave. Bruno and Shmuel get caught up in a march of people and end up in a gas chamber.

Because Boyne writes in the third person point of view from Bruno’s perspective, the reader does not immediately get a complete picture of what happens here. Bruno looks around and does not understand what this room is for and what the loud sounds mean. Confused and afraid, he grasps Shmuel’s hand “and nothing in the world would have persuaded him to let it go.”

It is not until the next chapter that the reader really learns what happened. “Nothing more was ever heard of Bruno after that,” the narrator explains. Bruno’s clothes are found near the fence and people begin to piece together what had happened. Bruno and Shmuel have been killed in the gas chamber.

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What is the most important event in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas?

In my mind, the most important event in the novel is the moment when both boys enter the gas chamber.  It is significance for a variety of moments.  The friendship between Bruno and Shmuel is at its apex at this moment.  It shows how important both are to one another.  At the same time, it is important as it shows how friendship can transcend the temporal conditions that might limit it.  Bruno and Shmuel are loyal to one another, even though their social order tells them opposite.  Bruno does not waver in his commitment to his friend, even though the society tells him otherwise.  It is also significant because his innocence and pure way of looking at the world is both murdered and martyred simultaneously.  The idea that Bruno dies with his friend is a moment of intense horror and intense beauty.  It is difficult to find one instant that captures both extremes, but I believe it is an important moment that speaks to the power of the book.  There are many important instants in the book that speak to what it means to be human, but I think that the moment when both boys enter the gas chamber is one of the most powerful.

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What is the most important event in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas?

There could be many instances deemed as the most important events in the book.  For me, it would have to be when Bruno hops the fence to accompany Shmuel to find his father.  It is important because it represents the first time that both boys, in separate worlds, find themselves converged in the same one.  It is also significant because it is the first real instant where we see Bruno's heroism.  He is scared by what he sees and experiences, and yet does not acquiesce because of the promise he made to Shmuel. Naturally, it is because he crossed over the fence that his death is almost inevitable.  When they are rounded up into the gas chamber, Bruno holds Shmuel's hand and comforts him in the most painful of times.  For those who were herded into the gas chamber, the frights and insecurity must have been horrifying.  Yet, when Bruno woke up that morning, he had little idea that his day and his life would end in this manner.  It is for this reason that I would say that Bruno's crossing the fence is the single most important event in the book.

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What is the most important dialogue in the novel The Boy in the Striped Pajamas?

There are numerous scenes that include important dialogue throughout the novel The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. One of the most significant conversations takes place in Chapter 4, between Bruno and his sister, Gretel. In Chapter 3, Gretel explains to Bruno that their new house is called Out-With. In Chapter 4, Gretel follows Bruno into his room and looks out of his window for the first time. Gretel looks at the people through the window and asks Bruno, who they are and what sort of place is this. Bruno tells her that it's not as nice as home, and when Gretel asks where all the girls are, he says that they must be in a different part. Boyne then gives a description of the massive fence surrounding the small homes and buildings. Gretel tells Bruno that she doesn't understand what kind of place they are in, and Bruno mentions how nasty it looks. Gretel says to Bruno that she thinks the huts are modern types of houses, then concludes that they are in the countryside. Gretel elaborates as to why they are in the countryside, but recalls that she learned in geography class that there were farmers and animals in the country. Bruno disagrees with her and brings up the fact that there are no animals in sight and mentions the dismal condition of the ground. Gretel admits that they are probably not in the countryside, and asks Bruno, who all those people are and what are they doing. Boyne then gives a description of the people wheeling wheelbarrows and working like they are in a chain gang. When Bruno tells Gretel to "Look over there," he points to a group of children who are getting yelled at by soldiers (Boyne 37). Gretel says that it must be some sort of rehearsal and tells Bruno that she wouldn't want to play with the dirty children she sees. Bruno agrees that it does, in fact, look dirty, and says that maybe the children don't bathe. Gretel sarcastically asks, "What kind of people don't have baths?" (Boyne 38). Bruno responds by saying, people who don't have any hot water. After Gretel leaves Bruno's room, Bruno notices that all the people are wearing the same pair of striped pajamas.

I feel that the dialogue between Gretel and Bruno throughout Chapter 4 is the most important in the novel because their conversation reveals that they are living next to a concentration camp. Boyne uses their dialogue to describe the physical features of their environment, as well as the activities the prisoners are engaged in. The fence, housing, landscape, and the attire of the prisoners is mentioned throughout this chapter. The audience can surmise that the name Out-With is a mispronunciation of Auschwitz from the previous chapter, following Bruno and Gretel's dialogue in Chapter 4.

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What is the rising action of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas?

As is usually the case in any work of fiction, the rising action of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas spans the majority of the novel. It begins after the exposition and initial conflict, when Bruno's family move away from Berlin for his father to take a promotion in the German army. Their new house is in a remote area, but there are thousands of people living on the other side of a fence near the house. One of these people is an old man called Pavel who works for Bruno's parents as a servant. One day, when he dresses a cut incurred by Bruno in falling off a swing, Pavel reveals that he used to be a doctor. It makes no sense to Bruno that a former doctor would now have to work as a domestic servant.

The people on the other side of the fence are in a camp called Auschwitz, which Bruno pronounces "Out-With." They all wear a uniform of striped pajamas. One day, Bruno meets a boy called Shmuel, who lives in the camp, and the two become friends. Bruno does not understand the nature of the camp or why Shmuel is there, but he sees that his new friend is dangerously thin and brings him food. As Bruno's friendship with Shmuel develops, Bruno's mother tries to persuade his father to allow the family to return to Berlin. Eventually he agrees. When Bruno goes to say goodbye to Schmuel, he agrees to dress up in striped pajamas and crawl under the fence to explore the camp before he leaves and help Shmuel search for his missing father. This is the end of the rising action and the beginning of the climax.

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What is the rising action of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas?

In the plot of a story, the falling action comes right after the climax, the moment of greatest intensity in the story. In The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, the climax takes place when Bruno, who's changed into the uniform of a young Jewish prisoner, is herded with his friend Shmuel into the gas chamber, where they are both killed.

The falling action, then, consists of the aftermath of Bruno's tragic and unexpected death. When his parents realize he's gone missing they're understandably out of their minds with worry. Both Bruno's mother and his father Ralf search frantically for him but to no avail. Neither of Bruno's parents has the faintest idea of what could've happened to him. The very thought that he might've been killed in the gas chamber simply doesn't occur to them. The whole idea is grotesque in the extreme.

It's only when Bruno's mother and his sister Gretel leave "Out-With" and head back to Berlin that Ralf is finally able to figure out what happened to his son. Try as he might, Ralf cannot ignore all of the available evidence, which points unmistakably to one conclusion and one conclusion only: that Bruno died in the gas chamber, the very same gas chamber that he, Ralf, was responsible for operating.

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