set of striped pajamas behind a barbed wire fence

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

by John Boyne

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Why does Bruno think Maria's priorities are wrong in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas?

Quick answer:

Bruno thinks that Maria does not have her priorities right because he believes that she should be packing up so that they can go back to Berlin. Perhaps he also believes that if she must unpack, she should have unpacked the books and toys first.

Expert Answers

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In chapter 2 in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Bruno moves from his house in Berlin to a new house in the “middle of nowhere.” This new home compares very unfavorably to the house in Berlin. Their previous house was big and mysterious. After nine years, he was still able to find “nooks and crannies” that he had yet to explore. This new house does not lend itself to expansive exploration. Upon arriving, Bruno already feels that he’s seen all he needs to see.

Other issues influence Bruno’s negative attitude toward the new dwelling. As the “middle of nowhere” description indicates, this house isn’t in a big city with bustling people and overflowing carts of fruits and vegetables. This house removes Bruno from the excitement of the city and the company of his friends.

Not wasting any time, Bruno tells his mom, “I think this is a bad idea.” He advises his mom that they should ditch this place and go back to Berlin. Bruno’s critiques exasperate his mom. To get some relief, she tells him to go help Maria unpack. As he enters his room, he discovers that Maria has unpacked his clothes but not his toys and books. This makes Bruno conclude, “It was obvious that Maria did not have her priorities right.”

One could argue that Bruno does not think that Maria has her priorities right because her main objective should be to pack up his things so that they can go back to their wonderful home in Berlin and get away from this contemptuous residence. It’s also possible that Bruno thinks that Maria does not have her priorities straight because, if she has to unpack, the toys and books, which remain in their boxes, should have been unpacked first, as Bruno likes to read.

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