80 pages 2 hours read

John Boyne

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 2006

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Character Analysis


Bruno is the protagonist of the novel, a 9-year-old German boy born on April 15, 1934 in Berlin, Germany. He is the son of a high-ranking officer in Nazi Germany, and he grew up in an affluent neighborhood. Despite the ongoing war, of which he is only dimly aware, Bruno lives a typical boy’s life, running around with his friends Karl, Daniel, and Martin. He is fond of exploring the large house in which his family lives and of the plays his grandmother puts on with Bruno and his sister Gretel every Christmas. He perceives his father as a figure to be respected and adored, a man in a “fantastic uniform,” even though he dislikes his commander, “the Fury.”

Bruno changes a little once he learns his family must leave Berlin for a house in the middle of nowhere, an area he believes is called “Out-With.” Even though he remains blind to the horrors around him, he begins to question the logic of changes that happen in his life and attempts to find answers from his father, his maid Maria, and even his older sister, whom he does not like much. The biggest change occurs when he meets and befriends a Jewish boy, Shmuel, who lives on the other side of the fence that separates the camp from the house and the garden where Bruno lives.