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English book boy in the striped pyjamas

3273 words (13 pages) Essay in English Literature

5/12/16 English Literature Reference this

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Time: in which time is the story set?

The story is written in the present time.

I think the story is round 1943, because that’s the time about the Second Worldwar. Also the birth of Bruno is 15 April 1934, but in the story he 9 years old, so it must be in 1943.

In the quote that I found, you can make clear that it’s happening around the time of Hitler.

Time: how much time does the story take? Does it take hours, months, years?

The story takes about 1 ½ or 2 years.

At the beginning of the book Bruno is 9 years old, but at the end he is about 10 ½ years old.

Place: Where is the story set?

At the beginning the story takes place in Berlin, Germany but they are moving to Poland. There is also the Out-With concentration camp (Auswitz).

I think they’re very rich. In Berlin they had a very big house, with 5 floors. The house in Poland is much more little, it has 3 floors. His father is commandant and they have 3 housekeepers.



Bruno and his family are going to move to Poland because of his father’s work. Bruno doesn’t like it here, he’s bored. He sees a lot of people, out of his window. After a few weeks, Bruno is going to exploring.

Main part:

Bruno met a boy, named Shmuel. This boy is on the other side of the fence. They’re at the same age, almost every day they meet each other and are going to talk.


Bruno’s father told him that they are going back to Berlin. The last they Bruno is going to Shmuel, he’s going to the other side of the fence. Together with Shmuel he’s going to explorer for Shmuel’s father. They didn’t find any evidence. When Bruno wants to go home, it’s to late. They’re led into a building. This is the end of their lives.


Main Characters:

Bruno: At the beginning of the story he is 8 years old, but the most time he is 9 years old. He’s a very handy little boy, but also very cute. He loves it to Explorer and likes it to travel. He doesn’t really like his sister Gretel, this is because she often belittle him. He looks very much against his father. Bruno is always trying to be honest, because he doesn’t really lying. You notice that it’s really a little boy, because he doesn’t understand many things. The reason why Shmuel is on the other side of the fence, and why there are many more people, and why Bruno can’t go there. He has a very good friendship with Shmuel.

Shmuel: He’s also a 9 year old boy. He formerly lived with his parents in a village. When he came home one day they had to wear a yellow star. After a while they had to go underground. One day he’s taken away from his mother. Together with his father, he’s in the camp. On one day his father goes away from the camp, he has to work, but he will never return. Shmuel is all alone. Shmuel wears a striped pyjama. Shmuel tries to explain Bruno what it is like on the other side of the fence, but Bruno doesn’t understand it.

Minor Characters:

Mother Elsa

Father Ralf

Sister Gretel

Luitenant Kotler

Maria the family’s maid

Pavel the clerk

Lars the butler

Herr Liszt the teacher

Grandmother Nathalie

Grandfather Matthias


I think that the most important theme the holocaust is. Other theme is the innocence of childhood. Bruno is a boy who likes explorer, but he is also very naïve. He doesn’t have much understanding of the holocaust. The book is written from a child perspective, everything seems confused and unfair.

There is also the innocence of childhood. Bruno and Shmuel doesn’t know that there is a holocaust. The only thing that Bruno knows is that, at the other side of the fence, there are a lot of people in striped pyjamas, and that his father is a commandant of something. He doesn’t know that the people of the other side of the fence are Jews, and that his father is a Nazi-commandant. Shmuel doesn’t know why he’s at the other side of the fence. The two boys talking a lot to each other, and they become friends. When Shmuel’s father was missed, he doesn’t understand that he has gone to the gas chamber.

At the end of the book, Bruno is also gone to a gas chamber. His father find it awful!

I think that the message of the book is, that you should treat people how you would like to be treated. His father does awful things with the Jews, but in fact he also does it at his own son, he is dead because of his orders.

B: Your opinion

Which character(s) did you like?

I found Bruno sympathetic.

Bruno doesn’t know what is going on. His mother told him that they need to move, because of fathers job. Bruno only know that his father is an important man with a fancy uniform, but in fact he’s a Nazi-commandant. Bruno is just an innocent boy. He likes explorer and he’s going to be friends with Shmuel.

I found Shmuel also sympathetic. He is also a little boy who doesn’t understand anything about the war. He is behind the fence and doesn’t know why he is there. He likes it to talk to Bruno. Shmuel is a nice and friendly boy.

Which character did you dislike?

I found lieutenant Kotler unsympathetic.

In this quote Shmuel is brought to Bruno’s house, he need to clean the glasses. Bruno gives him some food, but actually he’s not allowed to do that. If lieutenant Kotler it finds out, he will be very angry.

I found Bruno’s father also unsympathetic. He’s a great man and become a commandant, that’s also the reason why they moved to Auswitz. That’s also why I don’t like him. He is the man who gives orders to the soldiers who need to do al those bad things to the Jews. At home he is also a strong man, he can talk whenever he wants, Bruno don’t like that.

What did you feel when you read the story?

The book made me feel sad but it made me also angry about the family.

The story made me feel angry, because the father is a horrible man. He knows what is going on, and the rest of the family doesn’t know what there father is doing for job. His wife knows it a little, but she doesn’t say a lot about it. Sometimes they have a discussion about it, but mostly he wins. It made me angry because I found it not normal that you do such kind of horrible things to people, who are not ‘perfect’. Nobody is perfect, and that made the world beautiful.

The story made me feel sad because it’s horrible that those innocent Jews are the victim of a war, that is not their fault. They doesn’t know what is going on. The soldiers did horrible things to them. It made me feel sad because the two innocent boys are passed away, because of the actions of Bruno’s father. Bruno thinks that his father is a nice man, but in fact he is not.

What is your favourite part?

In this part Bruno is going to the other side of fence to help Shmuel to finds his father. They didn’t find any evidence. When it’s going to rain, they were lead into a building. Bruno is told Shmuel that he’s his best friend forever, and takes his hand. This is also the end of their lives… they’re in a gas chamber.

I liked this part of the book, because you can see that it’s real friendship. It doesn’t mean if you’re a Jew or something, you can be friends with every one. Bruno’s father is against the Jews, he gives the orders and he is ‘responsible’ for that camp. In fact his son is passed away because of his actions. He’s reason why they’re need to move.

What do you think about the theme?

There are made a lot of books and movies about this theme, but I think that this book special. This book is written about the perspective of a 9 year old boy. But not a normal boy, he is the sun of the commandant from a concentration camp. The most books about the holocaust, are about the Jews perspective, but this book is written through the eyes of a German child. You read the theme about a very different side.

What happened during the Second World War, should never happened again. That’s also the reason why I found this a very good theme. It’s something that can’t be forgotten. I think that there will come a lot more books and movies about this theme. It’s good that you see it about an other side.

C: The summary

Chapter 1.

In this chapter Bruno’s mother told him that they are going to move outside of Berlin to Out-With, because his father gets promotion and the whole family is moving with him. Bruno doesn’t want to move.

Chapter 2.

They arrived at the new house which Bruno doesn’t like. It’s really different as the house in Berlin. This house is smaller and there’s nothing to do around. Here are no children with who he can play.

Chapter 3.

In this chapter you met Gretel, Bruno’s sister, who agrees with Bruno that the house is not good.

Chapter 4.

Bruno and Gretel discovered a camp behind their house with a lot of people, who wears the same clothes. They don’t know what to think of it. They discuss if it is the countryside, because it is very dirty, but agree that it isn’t.

Chapter 5.

Bruno asks his father why they’re here. His father told him that he was sent by the fury. Bruno asks who the people behind the fence are. His fathers told him that they aren’t really people and that he shouldn’t worry about them because it has nothing to do with him. He has to make the best of their new home.

Chapter 6.

In this chapter Bruno has a conversation with their maid, Maria, who he asks if she likes their new house. Bruno also said that his father is not really nice. Maria tells Bruno that he doesn’t talk like that about his father, because he helped her with giving a job.

Chapter 7.

Bruno is bored and makes a swing in the tree. When he finished it, he is swinging and goes to high and then he falls of the swing and gets hit by the swing. He nearly faints and Pavel takes him to the house. Pavel cleans the wound on his knee. Later on they chat a bit and Pavel told Bruno that he’s a doctor which Bruno doesn’t believe at first. When his mother comes home she told Bruno to go upstairs and he hears her saying ‘if the commandant asks, we’ll say that I cleaned up Bruno’. Which he thinks is unfair of her to take the credit like that.

Chapter 8.

This chapter is a flashback. Bruno talks about his grandparents how he loves his grandmother. Gretel, his grandmother and he makes a play every Christmas but during the last Christmas his grandmother got in an argument with his father about being a soldier. He hasn’t seen his grandmother since then.

Chapter 9.

Bruno is ready to go exploring around the house.

Chapter 10.

After an hour of exploring, Bruno discovered a boy. The boy is behind the fence, and his name is Shmuel. They start to talk and discovered that they were born on the same day.

Chapter 11.

This chapter is also a flashback. It’s the evening that the fury came to their house in Berlin. Bruno and Gretel are told by their father that they have to be quit and aren’t allowed to stay with them downstairs during dinner. Eva Braun is with the fury. Bruno likes her, but he doesn’t like the fury.

Chapter 12.

Bruno and Shmuel talks about how their lives are changed. Shmuel told Bruno that he lived above his father’s watch shop and how he got inside the fence. At the end of the conversation, Bruno is going home.

Chapter 13.

In this chapter Bruno and Shmuel talks some more about their own lives. Back at Bruno’s house, his family is having dinner. Pavel dropped accidentally a bottle on Kotler’s lap, because he seemed sick or week. Lieutenant Kotler gets angry and does something nasty to Pavel.

Chapter 14.

It rains very hard and Bruno is sad that he can’t go and see Shmuel. He has a conversation with Gretel who he told that he has a friend. He can’t tell about Shmuel so he said that he has an imaginary friend. He tells her about Shmuel and about his live, but she doesn’t know that.

Chapter 15.

When Bruno is going to the kitchen he sees Shmuel sitting at the table. He talks to Shmuel and gives him something to eat. First Shmuel doesn’t want it because he’s afraid of lieutenant Kotler but later he accepts the food. Then lieutenant Kotler walks in and smells that Shmuel has eaten something and asks him why he had stolen the food. Shmuel tells Kotler that Bruno is his friend but Bruno tells Kotler that it isn’t true. Bruno is scared of lieutenant Kotler. The next day when Bruno goes to the fence to meet Shmuel he isn’t there. After a week Shmuel is there again all bruised up. They make up and Shmuel forgives Bruno when he tells Shmuel that he is scared of lieutenant Kotler.

Chapter 16.

Bruno his grandmother dies and they go back to Berlin for the funeral. When they are back in Out-With he asks Gretel why he isn’t allowed to the other side of the fence. Gretel explains that they’re Jews and that ‘we’ don’t like the Jews. Bruno doesn’t understand it fully but he’s able apprehend it a bit. Then his sister discovered that they both have lice and Bruno’s hair is cut off. The next time Bruno sees Shmuel, Shmuel laughs at Bruno for his hair. Bruno’s hair looks the same as Shmuel’s hair.

Chapter 17.

Bruno hears his father and mother argue about Out-With. His mother thinks it isn’t a good place to raise children. A few weeks later his father tells Gretel and Bruno that they’re going back to Berlin to their old house. Bruno isn’t sure what to feel about it he’ll miss Shmuel if he goes back to Berlin. But all his old friends live in Berlin.

Chapter 18.

Bruno tells Shmuel that he’s going back to Berlin. Shmuel is very sad because he lost his father a few days ago. Bruno says that he would’ve liked to see Shmuel’s place. Shmuel invites him, so they can look together for his father. Bruno comes up with a plan and they agree that the next day Shmuel will bring some striped pyjamas for Bruno and then Bruno can come along to the other side of the fence with Shmuel.

Chapter 19.

Bruno arrives at the place where he always meets up with Shmuel. He changes into the striped pyjamas. They go into the camp. Bruno doesn’t like it there. Nobody is happy everybody is sad. Then they go exploring to find Shmuel’s father. Then at the end of the night some soldiers make a group of peoples go together. Shmuel and Bruno are inside the group. They gave to go on a march Bruno doesn’t want to because he needs to be at home in time. But they have to go they are led to an airtight room. Bruno thinks it is because of the rain. He told Shmuel that he’s his best friend forever and then he holds Shmuel’s hand.

Chapter 20.

Bruno is gone, his father looked for him and the soldiers went through the whole house. He was nowhere to be found. Then a villager found a pile of clothes that belonged to Bruno his father takes a look and doesn’t understand it all. His mother returns with Gretel to Berlin in the hope that Bruno is there. Of course he’s not. After a year his father goes back to the place where Bruno clothes were found and discovers that a boy would be able to climb under the fence to the other side. He knows immediately what happened to Bruno. His father leaves Out-with a couple of months after that.


write down which expectations you had for the course of the story while you were reading the book. Did the book end the way you had expected it to? Would you have liked it to end in a different way? How?

Before I read the book, I have seen the movie. So I knew where it is going about. But I hadn’t expected this end. I had hoped that Shmuel was going to the other side of the fence and that they should go away together or something. That is should be a good end, but that should be boring.

Overall opinion:

did you like the book? Why / why not?

Yes, I found it a great book! Of course you know something about this theme, but in this book it’s told about a different perspective. A child of 9 years old, doesn’t really know what’s going on. When you read the story, you also don’t really know what is going to happened. It’s a realistic book. The most English books I found difficult to read, but this book isn’t, I read it in 3 days.

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