80 pages 2 hours read

John Boyne

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 2006

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Chapters 1-5Chapter 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.

He tries in vain to persuade his mother that the move has been a mistake, but she tells him they will have to “‘make the best of a bad situation’” (27).