The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is the story of an innocent and ignorant boy whose father is the commandant of the concentration/death camp Auschwitz in Nazi-controlled Poland during World War II. Though the book is written in third person/omniscient point of view, the author has Bruno use his unknowing voice, calling Auschwitz “Out-with”, and the Fuhrer (Adolf Hilter) “the Fury”, to show his true misunderstanding of all that is actually happening around him.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne - Themes
EXAMPLES OF THEMES
The soldiers. They took all our clothes away.
Why do you wear pajamas all day? My dad's a soldier, but not the sort that takes people's clothes away.
You've been stealing food, haven't you?
OBEDIENCE / CONFORMITY
Bruno often shows his innocence and naivete when it comes to the atrocities around him. He doesn't seem to understand what is going on at all. He certainly doesn't get that his father is in charge of the horrible treatment of the prisoners.
In addition to the physical boundaries, which the prisoners experience with the fences, there are also boundaries such as not speaking to non-prisoners and not taking food from them. After Bruno gives Shmuel chicken slices, Shmuel is accused of stealing them.
“He looked down and did something quite out of character for him: he took hold of Shmuel's tiny hand in his and squeezed it tightly. "'You're my best friend, Shmuel,' he said. 'My best friend for life.'”
Despite the fact that Pavel (the once-doctor, turned house servant) cleans Bruno's wounded knee, Mother says that she did it so that Pavel won't be punished by the soldier for touching a non-prisoner.