Boy in the Striped Pajamas

By John Boyne

Created by Kaitlyn Faye, Hope Wheeloch, Aaron Weiner, and Suzant Shresta

Plot Summary

The “Boy in the Striped Pajamas” is an American novel by critically acclaimed author John Boyne, that details the life of a German boy and a Jewish boy that become friends during World War II, in Auschwitz, Poland.

The story begins when the son of a Nazi general moves with his family from East Berlin to rural Poland. Unbeknownst to the boy, his family has just bought a house only miles from Auschwitz, one of the most notorious concentration camps in history. Bruno begins wandering outside the house boundary, (that his father put in place to prevent his family from ever coming across the camp). Bruno eventually reaches the electrified fence where he meets a boy named Shmuel. Bruno believes that Shmuel and the other Jewish prisoners are actually farmers that have utilized a fence to prevent animals from getting into the vegetables. Throughout the book Bruno remains ignorant to the fact that the pajamas and numbers on the prisoners are actually prison uniforms and an identification system. Nevertheless, Bruno comes everyday to the fence and brings Shmuel food and conversation. While playing chess one day, Shmuel mentions that his father has gone missing, and Bruno should cross the fence to help find him. Though hesitant Bruno eventually chooses to help Shmuel.

Book Review (According to Suzant Shresta)

This story is written in an unusual perspective, from a nine year old German boy’s eyes. His father, a ¨Commandant¨ for the Third Reich, receives a promotion uprooting our protagonist Bruno from his comfortable life in Berlin to a rural town in a Poland. Since he has no friends he goes exploring and comes across a boy in which he believes is wearing striped pajamas, who is a prisoner inside a nearby concentration camp. He visits him regularly bringing him food and playing catch with his ball over the fence. Through conversation he finds out that his new friend Shmuel cannot find his father after he arrived in the camp. Bruno naturally wants to help him, so they devise a plan where Shmuel gets him some pajamas to blend in with the others, then together they go searching for Shmuel’s father.

The author’s writing style and narrative voice truly puts you in Bruno’s shoes starting with the annoying sister that has fallen in love with another boy, to the big move which leaves behind all your good friends. The author does an outstanding job showing the naivety and innocence of a child, even with the horrors going on around him in the nearby concentration camp. Bruno remains unaware that Shmuel is in a deadly concentration and in terrible danger. To think this is just the story of one single human being, what about the 6,000,000 others who were killed in cold blood? This book definitely raises a lot of questions about morals and ethics, but it is up to the reader to decide if Boyne’s technique of writing through a child’s eyes is appropriate for them. I must recommend this book to be one of the “must reads,” as this is definitely one of the best World War II books ever written.


Book Characters

Bruno- The son of a Nazi general.

Shmuel- A Jewish prisoner in Auschwitz.

Gretel-The sister of Bruno.

Father-A Nazi general, and the father of Bruno and Gretel and the husband of Mother.

Mother- The mother of Bruno and Gretel.

Lt. Kotler- A solider that works for Bruno's father.

Pavel- A Jewish prisoner that works for the family.