set of striped pajamas behind a barbed wire fence

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

by John Boyne

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What does Boyne imply by depicting Bruno's mother and Lieutenant Kotler whispering together?

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Boyne might be suggesting that life in Auschwitz for Bruno is firmly embedding itself against his own sense of identity.  Bruno notes that Kotler carries himself like "he owns the place."  The whispering with his mother, the flirting with Gretel, as well as the placement Kotler enjoys in proximity with Bruno's father makes it clear that Bruno will not be validated in his condition in Auschwitz.  It is interesting to note that as Boyne makes it clear that Kotler's presence increases in chapter 9, this is also the point when Bruno clearly begins to wonder about "the pajama people" and the life that exists outside his home.  As Kotler settles into his home, Bruno sets his thoughts outside of it.  It is interesting to see that this becomes the point of transition for Bruno.  It is almost to suggest Bruno's own tendency to show resistance towards the firm notion of Nazi rule that has overtaken all of Germany, the subject of his tutorials in this chapter, and his own home.  In mentioning that Kotler has become a part of his home, Bruno begins to find his identity outside of it, making an important pivot away from the world of Kotler and towards one of moral ascendancy and transcendence.

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