Summary: Chapter 19

It rained the following day. Bruno spent the morning worried that his plans with Shmuel would fall through. By mid-afternoon, however, the rain had stopped, and Bruno set off to meet his friend. On the way, Bruno looked to the overcast skies and wondered if the rain would return, but he felt that enough rain had already fallen for one day.

He arrived to find Shmuel waiting with an extra pair of striped pajamas. Shmuel passed the pajamas under the fence. Bruno changed into them and folded his ordinary clothes into a neat pile. Bruno complained that the pajamas smelled, but Shmuel felt pleased that the disguise would work: “It was almost (Shmuel thought) as if they were exactly the same.” Bruno commented that dressing up reminded him of acting in one of Grandmother’s plays. She had always said the right outfit made it easy to feel like you were the person you were pretending to be.

Shmuel lifted the fence, and Bruno crawled under. Each boy felt an urge to hug the other, but instead of embracing they walked toward the camp. Bruno quickly realized that the reality of the camp differed greatly from what he’d imagined. Instead of cafés, shopping centers, and playing children, he saw groups of people staring at the ground with expressions of profound sadness. He also saw soldiers, who alternated between laughter and shouting.

Bruno told Shmuel that he didn’t like it there and that he should go home, but Shmuel reminded him of his promise to help search for his father. Bruno stayed, and they searched for evidence. But the boys didn’t know what to look for, and as the sky grew darker, Bruno said he needed to go home.

Just then, a whistle blew, and a group of soldiers surrounded the area where Bruno and Shmuel stood. Shmuel told Bruno this happened sometimes and that the soldiers made people go on marches. The other people in striped pajamas gathered together, pressed in by the soldiers. They all looked frightened, and Bruno wanted to whisper to them that his father was the commandant and that everything would be fine. Another whistle blew and the group of nearly one hundred people began to move. Some people near the back resisted, and Bruno heard loud noises that sounded like gunshots.

Bruno felt hungry and asked Shmuel if marches typically went on for a long time. Shmuel didn’t know since he’d never seen people come back from a march. Bruno looked at the darkening sky and heard thunder. Rain started falling. Wet and muddy, Bruno felt increasingly uncomfortable and worried about catching a cold.