80 pages 2 hours read

John Boyne

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 2006

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more. For select classroom titles, we also provide Teaching Guides with discussion and quiz questions to prompt student engagement.

Important Quotes

Quotation Mark Icon

“But when they asked Bruno what his father did he opened his mouth to tell them, then realized that he didn’t know himself. All he could say was that his father was a man to watch and that the Fury had big things in mind for him. Oh, and that he had a fantastic uniform too.”

(Chapter 1, Page 8)

The author positions 9-year-old Bruno, as the unwitting witness of an unimaginable tragedy. Thanks to this, Boyne offers a perspective that never clearly states the horrors of the Nazi regime and the Holocaust, while detailing the minutiae of life during World War II. Bruno’s father is a commandant in Hitler’s army, and it is telling that Bruno only knows the Fuhrer as “the Fury,” a name through which the horror of the man’s legacy reveals itself. Bruno’s focus on his father’s greatness and his admiration for the shiny uniforms is typical for a young boy who barely understands the harsh reality—and it shows his privileged position which will later be contrasted to Shmuel

Quotation Mark Icon

“But there were no other streets around the new house, no one strolling along or rushing around, and definitely no shops or fruit and vegetable stalls. When he closed his eyes, everything around him just felt empty and cold, as if he was in the loneliest place in the world. The middle of nowhere.” 

(Chapter 2, Page 24)

“The loneliest place in the world” is Auschwitz, the infamous concentration camp of which Bruno’s father is in charge. Throughout the novel, Bruno calls it “Out-With,” as another indication of his inability to grasp the seriousness and horror of the situation. Boyne utilizes the boys description of “the middle of nowhere” to juxtapose life in Berlin and life at the site of some of the war’s most gruesome murders, without revealing any of the grisly details.