The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
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Introduction see all, summary see all, themes see all.
- Lies and Deceit
- Morality and Ethics
- Freedom and Confinement
- Warfare (The Holocaust)
Characters See All
- Bruno's Mother
- Bruno's Father
- Minor Characters
Analysis See All
- What's Up With the Title?
- What's Up With the Ending?
- Bruno's Window
- The Striped Pajamas
Quotes See All
- For Teachers
Bruno Makes a Discovery
- Welcome to Berlin, Germany in the 1940s.
- Bruno comes home to find the maid, Maria, packing his belongings.
- His mother says that their family—including him, his sister (Gretel), his mother, and father—are moving for his dad's job.
- Bruno doesn't know what his dad does, but he knows it's something important, and that he wears a cool uniform.
- None too happy about this news, Bruno goes to his room and his mom goes to his father's office, which is a no-fly zone for the kids. Bruno's parents argue, presumably about the move.
- The door closes and Bruno goes upstairs to help Maria pack. Sigh.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas Chapter 1 Study Group
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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
80 pages • 2 hours read
A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides that feature detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, quotes, and essay topics.
- Chapters 6-10
- Chapters 11-15
- Chapters 16-20
- Character Analysis
- Symbols & Motifs
- Important Quotes
- Essay Topics
Chapter Summaries & Analyses
Chapter 1 Summary: “Bruno Makes a Discovery”
One day in wartime Berlin, nine-year-old Bruno comes back from school only to find out the family’s servants are packing his and his family’s belongings. His mother informs him that they will have to leave Berlin because “the Fury” has an important job for his father elsewhere. Bruno does not know what his father does; he only knows that his father wears a “fantastic uniform.”
Bruno will miss his friends and his home, especially the banister that is perfect for sliding down from the third to ground floor. He hopes his grandparents, who live close by will also come with the family, though he would rather leave his 12-year-old sister Gretel—whom he calls “A Hopeless Case”—behind to guard the house. As he goes up to his room to help the maid, Maria, pack his stuff, he hears his parents arguing.
Chapter 2 Summary: “The New House”
Bruno is dismayed to see the new house stands alone in the middle of an empty field. He compares it unfavorably to his home in Berlin, which is on a quiet but busy street with a nearby market.
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By John Boyne
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Noah Barleywater Runs Away
Teaching Guide + Study Guide
The Boy at The Top of the Mountain
The Heart's Invisible Furies
Allegories of Modern Life
Childhood & Youth
Coming-of-age journeys, european history, international holocaust remembrance day, juvenile literature, world war ii.
- Arts & Humanities
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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
By john boyne, the boy in the striped pajamas summary and analysis of chapters one and two.
Bruno , a young boy living in Berlin during the Nazi regime, arrives home from school one day to find his family's maid, Maria , packing up his things. When he asks his mother what is going on, she takes him downstairs and explains to him that they're going to move away. She frames it positively, saying that "it's going to be a great adventure" (3). Mother explains that Bruno's father's job is the reason they are all leaving their home in Berlin; someone Bruno knows only as "the Fury" has plans for his father's career. Bruno isn't quite sure what his father's job is; the jobs of his school-friends' fathers are much clearer to him.
When he asks his mother how far away they will be moving, she tells him it's quite far away and that he will have to say goodbye to his school friends, Karl , Daniel , and Martin . Bruno is unhappy with this news but when he complains, Mother silences him. She says she wishes they had more time to prepare, but "thanks to some people," they are leaving rather last-minute. Bruno knows that when his mother says, "some people," she's referring to Father .
Bruno thinks about how much he will miss his house in Berlin, especially the banister that he often slides down. He will also miss Grandfather and Grandmother , who currently live close by to Bruno's family. Bruno walks upstairs, resigned to help Maria pack his things, but briefly looks down to Father's office. He has been told and understands that Father's office is "Out Of Bounds At All Times And No Exceptions." He witnesses an argument between Mother and Father, which father apparently wins, but Bruno can't make out the words.
Chapter Two begins with a comparison of Bruno's old home in Berlin to his new living situation. His old home in Berlin was very large and spacious, with beautiful furniture and decorations, as well as many places for him to hide in and explore. Berlin itself was a bustling city with many stimulating sights and smells. He used to walk home from school with his friends Karl, Daniel, and Martin. They would pass people sitting at tables outside, eating and laughing.
In contrast, "there was something about the new house that made Bruno think that no one ever laughed there; that there was nothing to laugh at and nothing to be happy about" (13). They have brought Maria with them, and have taken on three new servants and an old man who prepares their dinner and waits on them during meals. This man is Pavel , though Bruno does not know his name yet. He does notice that the three servants and Pavel are "quite skinny and only ever [speak] to each other in whispering voices," which implies to the reader that they are prisoners at Auschwitz (13).
Bruno tells Mother that he thinks it was a bad idea to move there, but she tells him they must make the best of it. She says that they "don't have the luxury of thinking... Some people make all the decisions for us," referring to Father (13-14). Bruno encourages her to tell Father that she has changed her mind about moving there and that they should stop unpacking so they can move back to Berlin the very next day. She snaps at him and tells him to go help Maria unpack his things before marching away.
Bruno goes upstairs to help Maria unpack in his new bedroom, which he finds quite depressing. He asks the maid what she thinks of the situation, but she responds that she has nothing to say about it. Bruno starts complaining about Father's job but stops abruptly when a figure appears by his door. It is Lieutenant Kotler , a young man who will be working under Father. Bruno has a bad feeling about him. Bruno becomes even more depressed as he realizes that there will likely be nobody with whom to play in this new place. He crosses the room to look out his bedroom window, hoping to see Berlin. Instead, he sees something that makes him "feel very cold and unsafe" (20).
Boyne concerns himself with the plight of female characters, though the details of their specific situations are revealed through the lens of Bruno's narration. In the first chapter, the reader recognizes that Father has power over Mother not only because his job is dictating where they move without her having a say in the matter, but because he actually silences her voice in the argument Bruno witnesses between them: "he heard her speaking loudly to [Father] until Father spoke louder than Mother could and that put a stop to their conversation" (10). This literal silencing of Mother is representative of the figurative silencing of women's voices at this point in history, as well as in many times of war.
Mother reacts passive-aggressively, the only way she can, for example by referring to Father as "some people." Bruno knows that "'some people' was a grown-up's word for 'Father' and one that he wasn't supposed to use himself" (9). When Bruno complains that he doesn't thinking moving was a good idea after all, Mother tells him that they "don't have the luxury of thinking" because "[some] people make all the decisions for us" (13-14).
One of the ways Boyne establishes that the third-person narration is from Bruno's childish point of view is through the use of capitalization and misnaming of specific, recognizable names. For example, Bruno refers to his father's boss as "the Fury"; the reader must infer that this is actually "the Furor," or Adolf Hitler. Bruno understands that Father's office is "Out Of Bounds At All Times And No Exceptions," a phrase that he has presumably memorized after hearing it many times from his parents. This way of thinking about things so concretely, of making sense of a rule and applying it to all situations, is a characteristic of Bruno that identifies him as a child.
Another way that Bruno's point of view is conveyed to the reader is through the use of specific similes to describe his feelings and reactions. For example, when Mother tells him that he must say goodbye to his school friends, he questions her, "spluttering out the words as if his mouth was full of biscuits that he'd munched into tiny pieces but not actually swallowed yet" (7). This imagery makes sense to the reader but very distinctly refers to a situation to which a chid can easily relate.
Because of the limits of the narrator, the reader is able to approach the horrors of the Holocaust as if he or she has no prior knowledge - much like Bruno. The reader is required to put together details Bruno notices in order to make sense of the larger issues at play. For example, in Chapter One, Bruno notices that Mother "couldn't have applied her make-up correctly that morning because the rims of her eyes were more red than usual, like his own after he'd been causing chaos and got into trouble and ended up crying" (3). Bruno cannot fathom that his mother has been crying, but this description reveals to the reader the extent of her sorrow and frustration.
The limited narrator also allows for much dramatic irony. For example, when Bruno describes his visceral reaction to the depressing new living situation which Father's job has brought them, the reader cannot help but compare his relatively comfortable situation to that of the imprisoned Jews, just on the other side of the fence. This dramatic irony is employed alongside purposefully-omitted information to encourage the reader to draw his or her own conclusions. For example, Chapter Two leaves the reader hanging, so to speak, by neglecting to describe what Bruno sees out his bedroom window beyond the fact that it makes Bruno "feel very cold and unsafe" (20). Since the reader likely has some prior knowledge of the Holocaust, they might guess that the scene Bruno witnesses has to do with the prisoners at Auschwitz, though Bruno cannot make sense of what he sees.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
What complaints does Bruno make about Herr Liszt?
During the meal, Bruno complained about Herr Liszt's focus on history and his focus on the glory of the German fatherland.
How did the film "The Boy In The Striped Pajamas" affect you?
This question calls for your opinion, there is no right or wrong answer. The film, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas , brought the novel, which was descriptive in itself, to life.
What does Mother take credit for in chapter 7 ? Why does she do this?
She takes credit for cleaning Bruno's wound instead of Pavel, "If the Commandant Asks, we'll say that I cleaned Bruno up." Mother wants the credid for this.
Study Guide for The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas study guide contains a biography of John Boyne, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.
- About The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
- The Boy in the Striped Pajamas Summary
- Character List
Essays for The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne.
- Trying Themes of 'The Boy in the Striped Pajamas'
- The Boy in the Striped Pajamas as a Genuine Fable
Lesson Plan for The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
- About the Author
- Study Objectives
- Common Core Standards
- Introduction to The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
- Relationship to Other Books
- Bringing in Technology
- Notes to the Teacher
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Wikipedia Entries for The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
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