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The Boy in The Striped Pyjamas is a book by John Boyne about a young boy of nine named Bruno, who loved to play with his friends and going to school, among other fun things to do in Germany in the 1940s. Yeah, those 1940s. That is, until his father's job forces his family to move to Poland, particularly to an odd camp called "Out With", which consists of a small house with an odd fence beside it. His older sister, Gretel, informs him that it will only be 'for the foreseeable future", which she figures to be about two weeks.

However, things do not go as quickly as they'd hoped. So Bruno takes a look around and peers out a window to see what is beyond the fence. What he sees is, to him, amazing- so many people, old men, young men, boys of all ages, all wearing the same striped pyjamas! He asks Gretel about them, and finds out that they're called "Jews", which according to Gretel aren't really people.

So later on, Bruno decides to investigate for himself. While walking around, he meets a young boy about his age named Shmuel. After talking for a while, they forge an odd sort of a friendship, meeting as often as they can at the one spot on the fence.

It was adapted into a film in 2008.


This work contains examples of:

  • Adult Fear
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Bruno's sister seemed to get swept up in the whole propaganda at first because she had a crush on a soldier, but then became truly passionate about it.
  • Children Are Innocent: The book depicts the Holocaust from a child's point of view.
  • Coming of Age Story: Brutally and tear-jerkingly averted.
  • Deadly Gas: At the climax, obviously enough.
  • Did Not Do the Research: Though it's not technically historical fiction, Boyne's depiction of the Concentration Camp is somewhat incorrect. For example, there were electric fences around the Camp, and they were carefully maintained, so even if there were a gap somewhere, and the two boys could meet up somehow, crawling under and surviving would be impossible.
    • Also, on many publications of the book, the 'pyjamas' are sported not with a Star of David, but a pink triangle, the label for homosexuals.
    • Although there were some young boys who managed to survive in the camps for a while, it was common practice for those too young or too feeble to work to be gassed right away.
      • The story justifies that via Shmuel doing work that requires small hands.
  • Downer Ending: The book ends with Shmuel and Bruno being gassed in the "showers" and dying. And then there's the epilogue, where Bruno's father somehow figures out what happened to his son. Who's been missing for the past year. Considering this takes place at Auschwitz, it's somewhat justified. But still, *sniff*
    • The movie is not any better, as it has been modified such that Bruno's parents do realise their son is missing and may be at the concentration camp. The father runs into the camp only to find that one of the gas chambers has already begun working. The mother finds Bruno's clothes outside the camp and completely breaks down in tears.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death
  • Family-Unfriendly Violence
  • Heroic BSOD: Bruno's mother, after finding out what was really going on in the camp right next to her house, is so horrified and disgusted with her husband that she seems to just stop caring anymore. She stops keeping her hair tidy, no longer wears makeup, and argues with her husband openly.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Bruno's father is the commandant of a concentration camp; his own son is killed in its gas chambers.
  • Infant Immortality: this movie proves just how far a subversion can go.
  • Ironic Echo: Bruno sees a propaganda movie telling people how wonderful and happy the Jews are in their camps, and shows a clip of happy children dancing on stepping stones surrounded by singing dancing people. After entering the camp himself he finds the same stepping stones in the movie, and can't help but pause at the realization of how wrong the film was.
  • The Movie: Some slight changes but mostly true to the original work.
  • Odd Couple: Bruno, the son of a Nazi, and Shmuel, a Jewish child at a concentration camp.
  • Person with the Clothing
  • Say My Name: Ralf yells Bruno's name just after the gas chamber he's in starts working.
  • Together in Death: Bruno and Shmuel, though their relationship is platonic, not romantic.
  • Villainous BSOD: Once Bruno's father realizes what has happened to his son, he just completely gives up. It's stated that when the Soviets arrive to liberate the camp and arrest him, he doesn't struggle in the slightest.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Played painfully straight.

 Bruno: It’s not fair, me being stuck over here all on my own while you’re in there playing with friends all day.

Schmuel: Play?

Bruno: Well, isn’t it part of a game – with your number?

Schmuel: It’s just my number.

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