set of striped pajamas behind a barbed wire fence

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

by John Boyne

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

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The message of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is that we are all more alike than we are different. The innocent friendship of the Jewish boy Shmuel and the Nazi's son Bruno, set against the horrific backdrop of the Holocaust, highlights the fact that divisions between people are arbitrary. This book also comments on people's ability to rationalize evil actions committed against "other" people. Bruno's family rationalizes their own participation in the Nazi regime—they are responsible for countless deaths—but only feel the true atrocity of the gas chambers when their own son is killed by them.

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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas promotes a message of interpersonal compassion, friendship, and tolerance. It further suggests that the mistakes of one generation need not taint or be extended to the children of the next generation. The innocence and ignorance of children may keep them from forming discriminatory beliefs and acting violently, those qualities cannot save them from violent practices that others inflict upon them.

In John Boyne’s novel, Bruno’s parents apparently have shielded him from the harshest realities of war. The exaggerated innocence of Bruno’s character is necessary for the plot to advance to the tragic outcome that Boyne has given it. His parents do not explain what his father’s job is or what is happening at Auschwitz. However, they also fail to adequately restrict his movements so he is able to meet another boy, Shmuel, who is a prisoner.

Just as Bruno cannot understand who the “Fury” is, he is also ignorant of the importance that others attach to the differences between Jews and other Germans. For Bruno, loneliness and curiosity are adequate reasons to become friends with Shmuel. He apparently has not learned his parent’s biases and has not caught the militaristic fever that is sweeping his country.

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There are several messages of John Boyne’s novel The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. An important one is that, despite their differences, there are similarities between people. Another important message is that in an oppressive society, horrible things can happen to anyone, and so it is important for rational people to fight against tyranny.

The similarities of people, their differences notwithstanding, can be seen with the two boys, Bruno and Shmuel. When they first meet, the image the author presents is of two boys of about the same height and same age sitting cross-legged across from one another. They seem almost like two bookends facing one another, separated by a fence. Moreover, the boys discover that they share the same birthday and are both nine years old. Bruno says,

“I'm surprised, that's all. Because my birthday is April the fifteenth too. And was born in nineteen thirty-four. We were born on the same day.”

Shmuel thought about this. “So you're nine too,” he said.

“Yes. Isn't that strange?”

“Very strange,” said Shmuel. [...]

“We're like twins,” said Bruno.

“A little bit,” agreed Shmuel.

Of course, they are not like twins. The symbolism of the fence represents a very real difference between them. Shmuel is a prisoner, while Bruno is free to roam wherever he wants. However, by showing the two boys this way, the author is conveying how alike they are fundamentally. They find much in common and much to talk about even though they are different in many ways.

The other important message is of the unpredictability inherent in an oppressive and inhuman society. This message is also epitomized with the use of the fence and can be seen when Bruno crawls under it to help Shmuel. Bruno is caught up in the Nazis herding the Jews into the crematoria and, like Shmuel, Bruno is killed. This underscores how terrible things can happen to anyone in this kind of dictatorial regime. In this message, Boyne conveys that people need to fight against tyranny.

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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is a story of two boys who cross barriers in friendship. The fence in the story represents the divide between people that is too often formed. Ultimately, the message of the story is that beneath it all, we are all the same. Regardless of our color, religious preferences, sexual preferences, or gender, we are all the same and should be judged the same. 

In the book, the author makes the reader aware of the fences, or divides, that exist in our world by telling us the story of Auschwitz and how the Jews were treated.  These "fences” often contribute to hatred, violence, and even killings.  By telling the story of Bruno and Shumel’s friendship, the author encourages its readers to see others through the eyes of a child, because children are innocent and unaware of racism, sexism, and other biases that separate people from one another.

The author made Bruno and Shmuel very similar—they are both nine years old, and are both brought to a place against their will. Yet they are so different because Shumel is a Jew who is treated inhumanely by the Germans, and Bruno lives a life of luxury. Yet, throughout their friendship, neither of them feels that they are different from one another. When Bruno puts on the striped pajamas, Shmuel recognizes that “If it wasn’t for the fact that Bruno was nowhere near as skinny as the boys on his side of the fence, and not quite so pale either, it would have been difficult to tell them apart. It was almost (Shmuel thought) as if they were all exactly the same really." This is the pivotal moment in which Shmuel and the readers realize that we are all the same.

The only thing that makes us different is what’s on the outside. Bruno recognizes what his grandmother had once told him: “You wear the right outfit and you feel like the person you’re pretending to be, she always told me. I suppose that’s what I’m doing, isn’t it? Pretending to be a person from the other side of the fence." In wearing the striped pajamas, Bruno has shown his father that his child and the children behind the fence are no different from one another. Bruno has shown us that despite our ability to compare ourselves to others, we are no different from one another.

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There are multiple messages that a reader can extrapolate from The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. As a novel of historical fiction, readers are given plenty of messages related to the idea that World War II had a lot more going on than battles with bullets. A great deal of ethnic prejudice was happening as well, and the Nazi regime was very good at eliminating people from the population that didn't fit their arbitrary perfect mold.

As a young German, Bruno is being raised to believe that the German race is superior. Even if he is too young or naive to realize it, the fact that Bruno's father is in charge of the camp all but guarantees that Bruno is being raised to believe his superiority. Fortunately, Bruno is naive, and readers get to see how his innocence helps teach us that the people inside the camp are every bit as much of a person as the people running the camp on the other side of the fence. Bruno's friendship with Shmuel helps solidify this message. Through their bond, readers see that despite very different upbringings and worldly experiences, two boys that shouldn't be able to find common ground do just that. That's what makes their death all that much more tragic. They finally​ learn their mutual value, only to then be killed.

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

Boyne shows the reader that exploiting power, and ultimately others, through racist and unjust actions can lead to a loss of humanity, evil actions, and a breakdown of society. This can result in serious consequences, including the death of innocent people. Boyne shows the reader, through his characters and the consequences of their actions, that kindness is something all people should exhibit and that perhaps society still has many things to learn about equality and kindness.

A good way to write an essay demonstrating this would be to focus on the characterization of the main characters, in particular the way they act and the way they treat others. You could focus on analyzing characters such as Bruno, Shmuel, Bruno's father (Ralf), Kotler, and Pavel. Think about how each of these characters treats others: for example, Kotler barks orders at Pavel (once a well-respected doctor and Kotler's senior), frightening both Pavel and Bruno; Kotler viciously beats Shmuel; and Ralf treats the Jews like vermin and tries to teach Bruno to hate them too.

Ensure you include quotations from the text to support your points. For example, to show that Kotler isn't kind and exploits his power, you could use the quotation, "Come over here you ________!" Kotler barks at Pavel, and it is assumed that he calls Pavel a derogatory term for being Jewish. Another example could be "Those people ... well, they're not people at all Bruno." Ralf says this to Bruno to explain why there are people dressed in striped clothing and imprisoned behind a fence, visible in the distance from Bruno's bedroom window. Bruno doesn't understand this racist comment; Boyne is perhaps showing the reader that hate and racism are learned rather than occuring naturally, which is shown more fully through Bruno and Shmuel's budding friendship—despite one boy belonging to a Nazi family and the other to a Jewish family.

You can analyze quotations like those above, explaining what they reveal about each character and the fact that Bruno, as a small German boy, can see that these actions are wrong and even reflects on his own selfish behaviour. For example, he doesn't tell Kotler the truth about giving Shmuel some food, and he feels guilty for it. You could compare Bruno's guilt about this to the lack of guilt shown by the adults around Bruno, who behave in a racist manner and aren't shown to question their behavior.

You can then link each of your paragraphs by thinking about how your chosen characters compare to one another and why some characters suffer and some characters don't. For example, Bruno lives a relatively happy life as a German boy with a Nazi father, simply because he is Christian and considered ethnically German, whereas Shmuel is forced into a concentration camp and abused, simply because he is Jewish. You can reference context about World War II the Holocaust here and explain why you think Boyne is juxtaposing characters like Bruno and Shmuel, who face the same fate at the end of the novel when they both die tragically in the gas chambers. You could consider why Boyne shows the reader that the two boys, who are very similar despite their backgrounds, are aligned physically at the end of the novel—on the same side of the fence, dressed in the same clothing—and, as a result, suffer the same fate. Consider what leads Bruno to be forced to meet Shmuel in secret and what ultimately leads to his death, and why Boyne shows the reader this tragedy.

You could conclude your answer by succinctly explaining how and why Boyne focuses on the issues of racism and inequality and what he wants his readers to learn from his many characters.

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What is the moral or message of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas?

One could argue that the moral message in Boyne's story The Boy in the Striped Pajamas concerns the significance of exercising perspective and developing an understanding that we are more alike than we are different. In the story, Boyne illustrates how a young, naive German boy named Bruno befriends a Jewish prisoner named Shmuel, who lives inside the horrific Auschwitz concentration camp, where he witnesses atrocities on a daily basis and must endure the difficult conditions inside the fence. Despite their different backgrounds, ethnicities, religious beliefs, and drastically different circumstances, Bruno and Shmuel become close friends. While Bruno initially struggles to understand Shmuel's situation, he gradually develops perspective and sympathizes with him. The fence that separates the two boys metaphorically represents the numerous social and political boundaries and obstacles that divide humans across the globe.

Despite the massive fence and the dangerous environment of the concentration camp, the two boys develop an innocent friendship. The fact that Bruno and Shmuel's friendship flourishes in the midst of such a horrific setting emphasizes Boyne’s message that all humans are more alike than we are different. Rather than accept the divisive, hateful atmosphere around them, Bruno and Shmuel recognize each other's positive qualities, sympathize with each other, and become close friends. Bruno's act of wearing the striped pajamas and entering the concentration camp highlights the message that we as humans are much more similar than we are different. This concept stands in stark contrast to the racial and ethnic superiority message propagated by the Nazis.

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What is the moral or message of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas?

"The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" is a story that has an impact on anyone who reads it. Although it is in danger of reducing a very devastating and real life tragedy to a fictional story, it is also capable of exposing many people, especially children who otherwise cannot relate to the real events of the Holocaust except as outsiders, to this terrible occurrence in history. The reader connects with Bruno and Shmuel and children reading this story can have a better understanding, even though it is far from the real thing, because they too have "friends for life" whom they could not bare to be separated from. Only by introducing even a small part of the real pain can the reader start to appreciate his or her own good fortune and contribute to making the world a better place.

The "fence" that separates Bruno and Shmuel is representative of the many things that separate people of different cultures, races, ethnic backgrounds and so on and the young reader can hopefully see the futility of such defined differences. Even though Bruno and Shmuel have different lives and different perspectives of the world, once Bruno puts on the pajamas, he effectively breaks through not only the real fence but also that imaginary fence  that separates the friends, to the point that it is "quite extraordinary." The differences still exist because Bruno is "nowhere near as skinny....and not quite so pale" but the differences are immaterial and Bruno blends in to his new surroundings.

The moral of the story could then be that every person has the capacity to make a difference, even if it seems insignificant. Never underestimate the power of a single kind word or action, and most importantly, in terms of Bruno wearing the pajamas, do not judge others by their appearances. 

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What are the key themes in The Boy with the Striped Pajamas?

In the novel, “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas,” by John Boyne, there are a couple of major themes that run throughout the story.  Bruno, a lonely little boy is the protagonist in this story.  He has an older sister named Gretel, a nanny and house keeper named Maria, a mother and a father.  Bruno’s father is a Commandant of a Jewish concentration camp.   The major theme is the desire for friendship.  Boyne explores the theme of friendship by having Bruno wander to the fence of the camp, and he meets another boy his age.  The problem is that this little boy, Shmuel, is a prisoner.   He is a Polish Jew who is interned at Auschwitz along with his family.   The boys become friends from opposite sides of the fence and the war.  The desire in these two boys for a friendship is so strong that they ignore the fence between them.  They become very dependent upon one another.  This friendship will eventually lead to tragedy.

When Bruno’s father asks him about how he knows about the people in the stripped clothes, Bruno tells him that he has seen them from his window.  Bruno's father forbids Bruno to go near the fence, and tells him to play near the house. Bruno doesn’t understand his father’s hatred of these people.  We also meet a violent and hateful soldier who comes on to Bruno’s older sister.  However, we see his violent hatred of Jews when he beats a prisoner who works in the house.  He also threatens and intimidates Bruno.  The actions of the Nazi soldiers and Bruno’s father demonstrate the theme of prejudice that runs throughout the novel.

"'The Boy in the Striped Pajamas' explores the beauty of a child's innocence in a time of war, the common desire we all have for friendship, and the fences—both literal and figurative—that we must all navigate and choose whether or not to break down."

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What are the key themes in The Boy with the Striped Pajamas?

The main themes of the novel include (but are certainly not limited to):

1. The innocence of childhood. Bruno and Shmuel share a great deal in common but perhaps what is most striking is the childhood innocence which characterizes both boys. Bruno is unaware that his father is a Nazi commandant and that his home is on ther periphery of Auschwitz. Shmuel, imprisoned in the camp, seems not to understand the severity of his situation. When his father goes missing, Shmuel does not understand that he has gone to the gas chamber.

2. Boundaries. The story also explores the boundaries -- both literal and figurative -- that we live with. Shmuel and Bruno are separated by a fence and lament that they can never play or explore together. They are also separated by the strict rules inherent in Nazi Germany which forbid Germans to be friends with Jews, Poles, and the other groups persecuted by Hitler.

There are certainly more themes but these are some good ones to explore.

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What are some lessons that students should learn throughout the novel The Boy in the Striped Pajamas?

After reading The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, students should have learned about human nature, genocide, and innocence.

Human nature is a major theme in the novel. Students can contrast the kindness of Bruno and Shmuel with the horrors the Nazis are perpetrating on the people in the concentration camp. Bruno and Shmuel have many things in common—including a birthday—and are both kind and caring boys who have been isolated from their former lives. The author contrasts a German boy with a Jewish one to show that people don't often start out bad. Rather, it's choices and circumstances that give way to problems like judgement, prejudice, and hate.

Innocence is another major point that students should understand after reading the novel. Bruno can be seen as innocent of his father's crimes, and the Jewish people locked up in Auschwitz are innocent of any crime. The two young boys are also too innocent to understand what's going on. They don't see Auschwitz as a death camp; when Shmuel can't find his father, Bruno disguises himself as a prisoner and sneaks in to help him find his father. This, of course, leads to Bruno's death along with Shmuel.

Genocide is an important theme in the novel. While Bruno sees the death camp as a farm, readers will understand its true purpose. When Shmuel's father goes missing and when Bruno sneaks in and the two boys are put in a gas chamber, students can see some of the horrors of genocide. It adds a personal touch to well-known history that may not resonate personally if it's only learned from a textbook.

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What are some lessons that students should learn throughout the novel The Boy in the Striped Pajamas?

Boyne's novel about a nine-year-old German boy who develops an unlikely friendship with a Jewish boy who is confined behind a barbed wire fence at Auschwitz has several significant lessons. This story is a cautionary tale of how radical government policies can propagate prejudice that results in the inhumane treatment of a specific group of people. The Nazi's Final Solution persecuted people of the Jewish faith and resulted in the deaths of approximately six million Jews.

Another lesson expressed throughout the novel is the idea that people should treat others the way they want to be treated. Unlike the other characters in the novel, Bruno's innocence allows him to treat everyone with respect and compassion.

Another lesson deals with the power of love and friendship. Boyne illustrates how love and friendship can overcome the most inhumane, dangerous environments. Despite the hate and brutality regularly surrounding them, Shmuel and Bruno develop a close friendship that withstands the test of time. Even though they both die at the end of the story, their bond transcends the physical realm.

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Discuss the theme of friendship in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is as much about loneliness as it is about friendship. A concentration camp is a very lonely place. People are separated from each other for any number of reasons, and friends and families are dying with regularity. These are harsh realities for Shmuel, but Bruno's world is just as lonely.

He has been forced to leave his home and his friends to live in a house and location where there is nobody his age around. Bruno's sister could be a friend, but anybody with siblings understands that the sibling friendship is different than having a peer friend. That is what Bruno longs for, and that is what he amazingly finds in Shmuel.

On paper, Bruno and Shmuel should not be friends for a variety of reasons. One reason is that it just shouldn't logistically be possible. They exist on opposite sides of a prison camp fence. Shmuel is someone that Bruno should also hate. Bruno is being trained to hate certain groups of people. Fortunately, Bruno instinctively knows that kind of thinking is flawed, and he is willing to extend a friendship to Shmuel. The massive differences that exist between the two boys serves to highlight the fact that the bonds of friendship are very strong and are capable of crossing physical and cultural boundaries.

Bruno also learns that friendships require work. He learns this when he fails to stand up for Shmuel, and the relationship is damaged. Bruno learned that keeping friends requires asking for forgiveness. Bruno also learns that having a friend means standing up for that friend no matter the consequences as well.

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What is the main conflict in the novel The Boy in the Striped Pajamas?

There are several conflicts, both internal and external, throughout the novel The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. However, the main conflict centers around Bruno and Shmuel’s friendship. Bruno is the son of a Nazi Commandant, and Shmuel is a Jewish prisoner in Auschwitz. Bruno was raised to believe that Germans were more superior than any other ethnicity, and his father is in charge of the systematic annihilation of the Jewish prisoners. Shmuel is in a very dangerous situation, and his well-being is threatened each day. Shmuel suffers from malnutrition and is also subjected to physical abuse throughout the novel. Bruno risks being severely punished for socializing and becoming friends with Shmuel. Shmuel risks physical punishment which could be life threatening if he is caught befriending Bruno. Unfortunately, the dangerous, inhumane environment takes the lives of both Bruno and Shmuel but is unable to break their friendship and loving bond.

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What themes are explored in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas?

The two major themes of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas are friendship and innocence. Bruno and Shmuel share such a desire for camaraderie that they form one from literally two different sides of a fence. Owing partly to Bruno's naivete, the two are able to become fast friends, even if the friendship is doomed to end in tragedy.

The theme of innocence is very evident in the protagonist, Bruno. Due to the neglect and purposeful obfuscation of information on the part of his parents, Bruno has no idea of the true nature of Auschwitz, and even refers to prison clothes as "striped pajamas." Shmuel has obviously lost his illusion of childlike innocence and finds an incredible comfort when he sees it in Bruno. The book assigns a dark significance to the folly of this innocence, as it eventually causes Bruno's death.

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What themes are explored in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas?

In this story of innocence and misunderstanding, Bruno loses his life alongside his friend Shmuel in part because his parents tried to protect him from the awful truth.

The theme of parental love underlies the story because Bruno's parents do not want him to know where they are or why. They try to shield him from the knowledge that they are in a death camp and that his father is responsible for killing the Jewish prisoners.

The importance of friendship as another, equally crucial kind of affection is also present throughout the story. Happy to have a friend, Bruno wants to help Shmuel, and it costs him his life.

In the latter regard, along with the limited information the parents provide, the theme of misunderstanding is expressed through Bruno's relationship with Shmuel. Bruno thinks of camp as a rural idyll, and is confused when he visits and sees entirely unanticipated sights. Bruno doesn't understand the words he hears, like Auschwitz.

The theme of innocence lost also flows through the story. Shmuel lost his innocence and grew up too fast when his family was imprisoned. Bruno loses bits of his innocence as he struggles to comprehend the environment of the camp, but his chance to grow is destroyed with his death.

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What themes are explored in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas?

This question has been asked and answered already here on eNotes.  Here is a link for you:  http://www.enotes.com/the-boy-in-the-striped-pajamas/q-and-a/what-key-themes-boy-with-striped-pajamas-102069

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What themes are explored in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas?

I feel that one of the themes is that racism and hatred can ultimately destroy the person who is guilty of it. Bruno's father is happy to kill children of Jewish families and it is the ultimate irony that he indirectly kills his own son. It is also clear that it is adults that are the ones who are guilty of racism as children play happily with each other and do not see race/colour etc.

The role of women is explored too as Bruno's mother is not really at ease living near a concentration camp but does not speak out; speaking out may have saved her child's life.

The Nazis' hatred of other people and their casual mistreatment of them is characterised in the form of Pavel who helps around the house although he is really a doctor.     

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What are some of the character traits of the main characters in the novel The Boy In The Striped Pajamas?

The two primary characters of the novel display incredibly contrasting traits that ultimately contribute to the novel's theme of friendship conquering societal differences.

Bruno's most glaring trait is his almost unbelievable naïveté. On all accounts, he seems entirely unaware of the true nature of his environment, going as far to mispronounce Hitler's title, refer to Auschwitz as "out-with." Most prominently, he is completely oblivious to the fact that his friend is a prisoner in a concentration camp. His simple naïveté, however, allows for a kindness that would seem impossible in Shmuel's hostile world. Bruno's nature is ultimately reflective of the willful ignorance that was prominent in World War II.

Shmuel, on the other hand, functions slightly less prominently as a character than Bruno and is best embodied by his humility. He is a young boy who has no capacity to understand why he is being caged, starved, and constantly exposed to disease, yet he still allows himself to open up to a friend like Bruno. While anyone, particularly a child, in Shmuel's situation would likely lash out and remain frustrated, Shmuels humility and forgiving attitude allow for the unlikely friendship that drives the narrative to form.

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What are some of the character traits of the main characters in the novel The Boy In The Striped Pajamas?

Bruno: Bruno is an adventurous young boy who wants to become an explorer when he gets older. Bruno is naive and doesn't understand much about his current situation or environment. He is curious and asks many questions. He is also polite and respectful towards his parents, the servants, and his new friend Shmuel.

Shmuel: Shmuel is a sad boy who lives on the other side of the fence in Auschwitz. He is sickly and always hungry due to the fact he suffers from malnutrition. He displays happiness when he talks to Bruno and has a forgiving attitude.

Gretel: Known as the "Hopeless Case" throughout the novel, she is very rude and displays contempt towards Bruno. She is also a flirt and is continually trying to gain the attention of Lieutenant Kotler.

Bruno's Mother: She is an understanding individual who displays respect for the servants, unlike her husband. She is less strict when it comes to child-rearing, and is unhappy with her situation. Bruno mentions that she drinks her "medicinal sherries" and is continually taking long naps. She becomes depressed at Auschwitz and is furious when she finds out that her husband's job is to give orders to kill Jews. She has a romance with Lieutenant Kotler and concludes that Auschwitz is no place to raise children.

Bruno's Father: He is a strict man who is proud of his position as Commandant. He is rather rude to his wife and the servants throughout the novel. Bruno's father is a loyal Nazi who is respected by his soldiers. Despite his family's feelings, he chooses to move them to Auschwitz to fulfil Hitler's wishes. He is not afraid of confrontation and is continually arguing with his wife throughout the novel.

Lieutenant Kolter: He is a young, arrogant Nazi soldier who treats Bruno with contempt throughout the novel. He is violent and is continually punishing the Jews who live in Auschwitz. Kotler is also a flirt and carries on an affair with Bruno's mother throughout the novel.

Pavel: He is kind, caring, and sympathetic towards Bruno. Bruno mentions that he always looks sad and angry. He suffers from malnutrition, like most of the Jews in Auschwitz, and is treated terribly by Bruno's family throughout the novel.

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

There are a number of strong themes in this story. One is the theme of childlike innocence: the idea that children are too innocent to understand the evil that adults are capable of. Another is the theme of denial: that people are capable of denying the nature of their actions or able to delude themselves into thinking their actions are positive or beneficial even when they are in fact harmful or evil. Another theme seen in the story is that of compassion: various characters choose to behave compassionately in the wake of many acts of cruelty.

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What are the themes about change in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas?

In the novel, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, the theme of change is evident throughout the book.  In the beginning of the story, Bruno is an innocent boy who does what his parents tell him.  With the move to his father's new job, Bruno becomes an explorer of his surroundings and a friend to Schmuel, the boy on the inside of the fence.  Bruno is willing to hide this friendship even though he knows it would anger his parents.  During the dinner with Adolph Hitler and his girlfriend Eva, Bruno watches his sister pander to the adults and becomes even more determined to follow his own ideas.  His sister changes from a girl who loves dolls to a girl who follows the Nazi beliefs willingly. Even the tutor who teaches the Nazi beliefs doesn't convince Bruno.  Lieutenant Kotler doesn't really change except to become more brutal in carrying out his job.  When Bruno goes inside the fence and becomes a victim with his only friend to the killing machine which Auschwitz is, now his father and mother change their views of the job the father was doing. The mother had tried to shield her children from the horrors of Auschwitz but really hadn't done anything to change it. Now she searches for her son, and leaves Auschwitz.  The father loses his only son to the killing machine he had sent countless others to, and only when it becomes personal, does he begin to see the error of his blindly following a belief system without thinking on his own.  He regrets his time as the Auschwitz commandant knowing that it is the cause of his own son's death.

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What are the character traits of the characters in the novel The Boy in the Striped Pajamas?

Since your question is a bit broad I will focus my answer on the main character Bruno.  Throughout the book you undoubtedly will notice how innocent Bruno is.  He often misunderstands the names of people (he confuses "The Fuhrer" with Fury), places (he confuses Auschwitz with out-with) and the gravity of his situation. Bruno lives outside of the death camp and often goes to the fence of the camp; there he is truly oblivious to how emaciated the prisoners are and his friend Shmuel's often frightened demeanor. 

Bruno is also an adventurous character.  This makes sense considering he is a bored young boy in a new place.  The whole reason Bruno meets Shmuel is because he explores the woods behind his house even after being told not to.

Lastly, Bruno is compassionate. On several occasions Bruno brings food to his starving friend Shmuel even though he knows he might get in trouble with his parents if caught.  In the ultimate example of innocence and compassion Bruno sneaks into the death camp in order to help his friend find his missing father. Unfortunately, this leads to the senseless death of both these children.

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What is the key issue taken up & message conveyed in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas?

The film The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is adapted from John Boyne's novel by the same name.  Both film and novel are haunting in their depiction of the Nazis' treatment of the Jews.  What is particularly disturbing about this story is that it focuses on the children.  One child, Bruno, is the son of a commandant in charge of a concentration camp; the other child, Shmuel, is a Jewish boy imprisoned in the camp.  What separates the two children is a fence.  The fence, established by the Nazis, is what keeps the two children from being equals and from playing together, but is does not prevent their friendship from developing.  When Bruno slips under the fence to be with his friend Shmuel and ultimately faces the same fate as the Jews in the camp, we realize, as does Bruno's mother, the absurdity of separating children by race or religion, the horror of attempting to eliminate innocent children, and the danger that all children face in such an evil environment.

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Based on what is present in the book, what could be effectively argued as a statement of theme from The Boy in the Striped Pajamas?

I think that one of the strongest and most effective themes from the book is the idea that discrimination and hatred have to be seen as moral and political wrongs.  I believe that this is evident in the work in a couple of ways.  One such way is that Bruno himself becomes a shining example of how the thematic statement of hatred and discrimination cannot be tolerated.  His embrace of Shmuel, his loyalty to their friendship, as well as his questioning of why the present system is the way it is are representative of both his character and why he believes what he believes.  Bruno is able to withstand the pressure from his sister and his father in his befriending of someone who lives in "the striped pajamas."  Bruno ends up sacrificing his life for his ideals, something that members of his family come to understand later on in the narrative.  The ending is one in which one fully comprehends the thematic meaning of being able to stand up against hatred and discrimination.  These become evident realities out of the themes of the work and in this, one can see a thematic statement about the text emerge.

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Identify a shared theme between The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and another text.

Using Lowry's Number the Stars, I think that Boyne's work shares the theme of heroism from children in the most adverse of situations.  Both works highlight this theme as an essential part of their composition.  For Lowry, Annemarie assumes leadership and heroism at a time when there is so little of it.  Annemarie does not capitulate to the Nazi fear of Jewish people, as this would result in terrible things for her friend.  Rather, Annemarie represents what should be as opposed to what is in the way she stands up for Ellen.  In a larger sense, she represents that which is transcendent and universal in a world of contingency.  In much the same way, Bruno embodies this in his relationship with Shmuel.  Bruno stands for what is honorable and transcendent in a world where there is only contingency.  For both Annemarie and Bruno, the ability to represent what should be as opposed to what is defines their heroism.  Their sacrifice becomes a model for adults, and, in turn, representative to the reader that literature of the Holocaust does not have to only believe in the power of the aggressors.  While rare, there can be stories of hope and redemption, seen in the themes out of Boyne's work and Lowry's.

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