What do Bruno and Shmuel have in common?
One of the first things Bruno and Shmuel learn about each other is that they share a birthday. Both boys have been displaced from their homes and sent to live at Out-With, and neither of them likes it there. Bruno and Shmuel are both small for their age, and they comment how alike they look after Bruno gets lice and shaves his head. Bruno is consistently puzzled throughout the book about what makes the people inside the fence different from himself and his family. The more he learns about Shmuel, the more Bruno is convinced they are the same.
Why does Bruno deny knowing Shmuel?
From the first time they meet, Lieutenant Kotler intimidates Bruno, but Bruno’s fear is heightened when Kotler reacts violently to Pavel’s mistake at dinner. Kotler is openly disdainful of the Jewish people at Out-With, and he is both verbally and physically abusive to Pavel in front of Bruno. When Kotler asks if Bruno knows Shmuel, Bruno fears Kotler will hurt him as well if he says yes. Afterward, Bruno regrets denying Shmuel’s friendship and calls his action “cruelty.” Bruno knows that, in protecting himself, he put Shmuel in greater danger.
What happens to Bruno in the end?
When Bruno sneaks under the fence disguised as a Jew, he is marched with a large crowd into a completely airtight chamber and locked in. The novel tells us he is never heard from again, but the narrator expects that we have enough knowledge of Auschwitz to understand that Bruno, Shmuel, and all the people with them were marched into a gas chamber where they were killed by poison gas.
Why is Father interested in Lieutenant Kotler’s father?
When Lieutenant Kotler casually mentions that his father left Germany in 1938, Bruno’s father immediately begins to question Kotler about his family connections. Kotler quickly and repeatedly tries to distance himself from his father, stating that they do not keep in touch and that they don’t share beliefs. Later in the same dinner, Kotler attacks Pavel for spilling wine. Father and Kotler both understand their good standing in the Nazi party relies on appearing entirely loyal to Hitler and any suspicious connections or activity could have them dismissed, tortured, or killed.
Who is Eva?
When the Fury, as Bruno refers to Adolf Hitler, comes to dinner at Bruno’s house, a beautiful blonde woman comes with him. This woman is Eva Braun, Hitler’s real-life partner throughout World War II until their deaths by suicide in 1945. In The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, she is portrayed as kind toward Bruno and Gretel, and willing to act against Hitler’s orders, at least in small ways. Historically, her relationship with Hitler was secret until after the war and their deaths, and she likely had no political influence with him despite being a part of his inner social circle. However, she is not meant to be interpreted as a sympathetic, moral figure, especially considering she stood by a man who committed some of the most atrocious acts of violence and evil in human history.