Chapter summaries

Chapter 1: Bruno Makes a Discovery

Place and time: Berlin

Characters: Bruno, mother, maid Maria

The novel The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne begins when Bruno comes home and finds that the maid Maria is packing his things. He asks his mother why. She says that Bruno’s father has a new job and the whole family has to move because of it.

Chapter 2: The New House

Place and time: Berlin, Auschwitz (Out-With)

Characters: Bruno, mother, maid Maria, Lieutenant Kotler

After arriving at the new house, Bruno realizes that he does not like it there. He tries to convince his mother to return to Berlin. However, she says that is not possible. Bruno meets Lieutenant Kotler for the first time and finds him scary. He looks out of his window and can see a camp surrounded by a fence.

Chapter 3: The Hopeless Case

Place and time: Auschwitz (Out-With)

Characters: Bruno, Gretel

Bruno enters his sister Gretel's room and talks to her. She does not like it in the new house either. Bruno confides in her that he has seen other children and shows her what he can see from his window.

Chapter 4: What They Saw Through the Window

Place and time: Auschwitz (Out-With)

Characters: Bruno, Gretel

Bruno and Gretel observe the people in the camp, but cannot explain why they are there and what they are doing. They notice the bad conditions of the camp, such as the dirt and the broken barracks. They also notice that everyone is wearing the same clothes, namely pajamas and a cap.

Chapter 5: Out Of Bounds At All Times And No Exceptions

Place and time: Auschwitz (Out-With)

Characters: Bruno, father, other soldiers

Bruno remembers the departure from Berlin and the experiences on the platform when they boarded the train to Auschwitz. Afterward, he notices a conversation his father is having with other soldiers. He realizes that his father is the highest-ranking soldier. He tries to convince his father to go back to Berlin as well. 

Bruno sees his father's transfer to Auschwitz as punishment for his poor work. He also asks his father about the people on the other side of the fence, but only receives the answer that these are not people. This leads to an argument, and Bruno is sent to his room.

Chapter 6: The Overpaid Maid

Place and time: Auschwitz (Out-With)

Characters: Bruno, Gretel, maid Maria

Bruno is talking to Maria, since she, too, does not feel comfortable in the new house. Maria tells him that she got the job as a maid thanks to Bruno's father and that Bruno's father also took care of her sick mother. She also tells him that her mother was Bruno's grandmother's dressmaker.

Chapter 7: How Mother Took Credit for Something That She Hadn’t Done

Place and time: Auschwitz (Out-With)

Characters: Bruno, Gretel, Lieutenant Kotler, Pavel, mother

Bruno is very bored. He decides to build a swing and attach it to a tree. Since he needs an old tire, he asks Lieutenant Kotler for help. He interrupts Kotler's conversation with Gretel, who obviously has a crush on the young soldier. Kotler assigns Pavel, a prisoner from the camp, to help the family in the kitchen. Pavel gets the tire, and Bruno builds the swing. 

While swinging, however, Bruno falls and injures himself. Pavel, who has noticed...

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