Themes

The unusual and forbidden friendship between Shmuel and Bruno is one of the central themes in John Boyne's novel The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. They are almost "like twins" Bruno notes, and yet they live in two completely different worlds. Nevertheless, they make the best of their situation. The regular meetings briefly help both boys to find a little more joy in their lives. Separated from each other by a high metal fence, they talk about their wishes and fears for the future.

The fence is therefore another important motif, because it represents the separation of the Jews from the rest of the population and is thus a symbol of the suffering of many people. It is important to note that the fence does not fulfill its function, as Bruno manages to get inside the camp.

In doing so, Bruno not only crosses a line, but also defies his parents. They have forbidden him to go near the fence. Although he otherwise always follows all the rules, he is disobedient on this point. But it was precisely the obedience of the population that was an important point for the Nazis. They regularly insisted on the importance of obedience to the authorities. But Bruno is not interested in what is happening in his home country. He does not know the Nazi symbols and their meanings, although he is surrounded by propaganda.

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