Father called for more wine. Pavel refreshed his glass, but when he turned to fill Lieutenant Kotler’s glass, he dropped the bottle into the soldier’s lap. Bruno and the rest of the family looked on as the soldier attacked Pavel.

Summary: Chapter 14

Weeks passed, and Bruno continued to sneak out after his lessons. One day, Shmuel had a black eye, but he didn’t want to talk about it. Bruno asked if he could crawl under the fence so they could play on Shmuel’s side. Shmuel said no and wondered aloud why Bruno wanted so badly to leave his side of the fence, which was much nicer. Bruno asked why they wore the striped pajamas, and Shmuel responded that the soldiers had taken their clothes when they arrived. Bruno disliked his own uncomfortable clothes and felt jealous that others got to wear pajamas all the time.

A few days later, it rained, so Bruno couldn’t go to meet Shmuel. Gretel burst into Bruno’s room to complain about her boredom. Bruno sympathized with her and said that if it weren’t raining, he’d be with Shmuel. Gretel asked who he was talking about, and Bruno lied, saying he’d created an imaginary friend for himself. Gretel believed the lie and asked what Bruno did with his imaginary friend, and he said, truthfully now, that they talked about their lives. Bruno said that just yesterday his friend had told him his grandfather was missing.

Gretel said his friend sounded like “a barrel of laughs” and warned that he should stop pretending before Father found out. Inwardly, Bruno regretted not having tried to cheer his friend up, and he wondered if Shmuel was thinking about him just then.

Analysis: Chapters 13–14

As shown in Chapter 13, Bruno cared for Shmuel but simultaneously failed to listen closely to what his friend tried to tell him. Bruno noticed during their daily conversations that Shmuel had grown thinner and always seemed hungry. In order to help his friend stave off hunger, Bruno started stealing food from the kitchen. In addition to the general risk Bruno took to visit with Shmuel each day, the fact that he also risked getting caught for stealing food demonstrates that he truly cared about his new friend’s well-being. Yet in their conversations together, Bruno often failed to listen to Shmuel. Bruno consistently reverted to subjects of particular interest to himself. For instance, when Shmuel attempted to describe the horrific conditions he lived in, Bruno changed the subject and asked Shmuel if he had any sisters. Had Bruno listened to Shmuel’s story of his life, presented in Chapter 12, he would have known that Shmuel had only one sibling, his brother, Josef. But Bruno only asked this question so that he could complain about Gretel. This kind of tactic shows a level of selfishness that coexisted with Bruno’s growing care for Shmuel.

Father’s comment at the dinner table about correcting the wrongs of history further develops the motif of German history that has already appeared in several chapters. Mother’s comment in Chapter 7 regarding Herr Roller is an earlier example of the same motif. Whereas Bruno considered the man insane, Mother clarified that he suffered psychological afflictions that stemmed from his experience fighting in World War I. With a pitying tone, Mother reflected that many other young Germans suffered greatly as a result of that war. Mother’s comment foreshadowed the moment in Chapter 9 when Herr Liszt insisted on the importance of studying history, which would elucidate “the great wrongs” that had been committed against Germany. Here in Chapter 13, Father’s claim about the importance of history takes these earlier comments a step further. If, as Mother and Herr Liszt have already suggested, great wrongs had been committed against Germany, then those wrongs needed to be addressed. And as Father implied, his work at Out-With aimed to “correct” these great wrongs of history that had been perpetrated against Germany and the German people. In addition to furthering the motif, Father’s comment provides greater clarity regarding the broader historical background against which Bruno’s story plays out.