We don’t have the luxury of thinking. Some people make all the decisions for us.
Bruno’s mother is at odds with Bruno’s father through much of the novel. She does not do much to hide her dislike of the family’s move to Auschwitz, and she actively argues with Father about it. Although she is proud of her husband’s promotion, she feels he values his job over his family. Despite this, she still agrees to move, and repeatedly tells Bruno it is the right or necessary choice for their family. Mother expresses her opinions and disagreements, but she never takes action to uphold her own ideals. When Bruno says he doesn’t think moving is a good idea, Mother does not correct him. Instead, she tells him the decision is entirely out of either of their hands. She feels she has enough power in their household to voice her opinion, but not enough to act contrary to her husband’s wishes.
We should never have let the Fury come to dinner. Some people and their determination to get ahead.
As Bruno’s family leaves their house in Berlin, Mother blames their departure on Hitler coming to dinner. While Father emphasizes his loyalty to Hitler, Mother never makes any comments directly in support of or against the Nazi party. She simply wants to live as she always has. When they have to move, she blames Hitler for it. She does not comment on his social or political views or actions. Mother would rather keep herself out of politics, and she wants Hitler to keep politics out of her life. Like Bruno, Mother sees Hitler’s agenda as a personal imposition more than a national upheaval.
“Oh, I don’t believe it,” said Mother angrily. “I knew something like this would happen in a place like this.”
When Gretel and Bruno get lice, Mother sees it as a tipping point argument for why the family does not belong at Out-With. Mother never liked the idea of leaving Berlin or living at Out-With, but her reasoning has far more to do with social standing and her daily routines than an objection to the concentration camp itself. She is angry about her children’s scalp hygiene because it proves to her that their family lives in unacceptable conditions at Out-With. The irony is that, just across the fence from their home, an entire people group is forced to live in deeply inhumane conditions. Compared to the true hardship Father helps inflict on the prisoners, lice is a minor inconvenience. For Mother, something as commonplace as lice is the final straw that makes her stand her ground about her own standards of living and insist the family return to Berlin.