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Summary: Chapter 3

Bruno’s sister, Gretel, was three years older and always in charge. Although Bruno frequently dismissed Gretel as a “Hopeless Case,” in moments of self-honesty, he would admit he felt a bit scared of her. Gretel had mean friends who made fun of him for his small stature. She also had a large collection of dolls that Bruno imagined could spy on him.

Bruno burst into Gretel’s room uninvited while she was unpacking and asked if she had brought her dolls. Gretel said she had since it would be weeks before they returned to Berlin. She explained that Father had told her the family would stay for “the foreseeable future,” which meant weeks. Bruno feigned disappointment but secretly felt pleased since he’d thought “the foreseeable future” meant a whole month.

Bruno said he hated their new house, and Gretel agreed, though she suspected the house would look better once they had fully moved in. She explained that the previous occupants of the place, called “Out-With,” hadn’t stayed long enough to settle in properly. Bruno wanted to know what “Out-With” meant, and Gretel responded: “Out with the people who lived here before us, I expect.”

The siblings commiserated about having to leave their friends. Bruno added that the other children didn’t look at all friendly. Gretel asked Bruno what he meant by “the other children.” He took his time, savoring the fact that he knew more than her for once. Eventually, he led her to his room across the hall and indicated that the other children were outside his bedroom window. Gretel hesitated, then approached the window.

Summary: Chapter 4

The people Gretel saw from Bruno’s window weren’t just children. In addition to small boys, there were adult men, both fathers and grandfathers. Gretel asked who these people were and where all the girls and women were, but Bruno had no answers.

The narrator describes the view from the window. Directly beneath the window lay a large garden full of flowers. Past the garden was a wooden bench with a plaque on it. About twenty feet behind the bench was a huge wire fence, taller than the house and extending far into the distance. Tangled spirals of barbed wire snaked along the top of the fence, the sight of which made Gretel uncomfortable. Beyond the fence there was no grass, only dirt, and aside from the people, the only things on the other side were low huts, square buildings, and a couple of smokestacks.