The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas Chapter 11 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Several months before Bruno first met Shmuel, Bruno remembers the day that Father received a new uniform, along with the title “Commandant.” Father came home one night very excited, and announced to the family that they were to cancel any plans for the upcoming Thursday evening. Mother replies that she has tickets to the theatre, but Father interrupts her to say that “the Fury” has invited himself over for dinner to discuss something with Father. Father tells Bruno he is pronouncing “the Fury” incorrectly, but fails to instruct him on the proper way to say it. Gretel tells Bruno that the Fury runs the country. Father speculates that the Fury will bring “her” with him to dinner. Mother begins to plan all of the things she will have to prepare and clean before dinner on Thursday night.
Bruno now recalls a time back in Berlin before he moved to Auschwitz, when the whole household flew into frenzy over a dinner that Hitler was to attend. The “her” that Mother speculates will come along is Eva Braun, Hitler’s long-time girlfriend. Bruno continues to mispronounce “the Führer,” or leader (as Hitler was called), as “the Fury”—again remaining almost impossibly ignorant, as he sure hears the word properly pronounced dozens of times a day.
Themes
Innocence and Ignorance  Theme Icon
Boundaries  Theme Icon
Nationalism  Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Complicity Theme Icon
An hour before the Fury is scheduled to arrive, Gretel and Bruno are summoned to Father’s office, one of the rare occasions they are allowed inside. The children are both wearing their nicest clothing, even though they are not to be present at the dinner. Father lays down ground rules for the evening: when the Fury arrives, they are to be quiet and only reply to him in a clear voice if he speaks to them first. Second, if the Fury ignores them, they are to look directly ahead and treat him with “the respect and courtesy that such a great leader deserves.” Third, when Father and Mother are at the dinner table, the children are to remain in their rooms quietly. Bruno is explicitly not allowed to slide down the bannister.
Hitler was idealized and almost deified in Nazi Germany, so a personal visit would have been a huge honor for a Nazi officer like Father, and Father is justifiably nervous about making everything seem perfect. This includes laying down stricter than usual ground rules for the children. These will prove the family’s discipline, and show that everyone conforms to their traditional roles—Mother as the cook and hostess, Father as the leader and breadwinner, and Bruno and Gretel as well-behaved children who are to be seen but not heard.
Themes
Innocence and Ignorance  Theme Icon
Boundaries  Theme Icon
Family and Friendship  Theme Icon
Nationalism  Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Complicity Theme Icon
Forty-five minutes later, the doorbell rings and everyone takes their places. A small man and a taller woman appear in the doorway, and Father salutes them while Maria takes their coats. Bruno observes that the Fury is “far shorter” than Father, and has short dark hair and a tiny moustache. He finds the woman to be “the most beautiful woman he had ever seen in his life,” with blonde hair and red lips. Bruno is shocked that the Fury would be so rude as to go sit in Father’s place at the head of the table. Flustered, Mother and Father follow the man to the table, while the woman stays and chats with the women and children for a moment until the Fury yells “Eva,” and clicks his fingers to summon her. The woman “rolls her eyes” and goes to the table, but not before telling Bruno that he should tell his mother that his shoes are too tight.
Boyne again implies that Bruno has a natural goodness in him, as he takes an immediate dislike to Hitler. Eva Braun, on the other hand, is portrayed as a kind woman, who just laughs it off when Hitler snaps his fingers and calls her like a dog. Eva Braun’s relationship with Hitler was in reality a well-kept secret—Hitler liked to seem chaste and single—so this scene, too, is unlikely. Hitler takes Father’s place at the table, as he was seen as the ultimate “patriarch”—the father and protector of the whole country.
Themes
Innocence and Ignorance  Theme Icon
Boundaries  Theme Icon
Family and Friendship  Theme Icon
Nationalism  Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Complicity Theme Icon
The Fury and Eva stay at the dinner table for the better part of two hours, and Gretel and Bruno are not invited to come say goodbye when they depart. From outside his window, Bruno can see that the Fury has a chauffeur. While the Fury climbs into the car and begins to read a newspaper, Eva thanks Mother for a lovely evening. Bruno thinks about what a horrible man the Fury is. Later that night, Bruno eavesdrops on Mother and Father’s conversation in Father’s office. From snippets, he can hear Mother saying that she does not want to leave Berlin for “a place like…” and Father saying that “that’s an end to the matter…” Mother leaves Father’s office, and Bruno falls asleep. A few days later, Bruno comes home to find Maria packing his things—where the story begins.
It is at this dinner that Hitler proposes to Father that he accept a role as Commandant and take over the direction at Auschwitz. Though Bruno cannot make out all of the words in Mother and Father’s conversation, it is clear that they are fighting over the prospect of moving to Auschwitz, a debate that Father clearly wins, as it is a few days after this dinner that Bruno comes home to find Maria packing his things. As the “man of the house,” Father has the final say in any important decisions, and Mother ultimately has to go along with him.
Themes
Innocence and Ignorance  Theme Icon
Boundaries  Theme Icon
Family and Friendship  Theme Icon
Nationalism  Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Complicity Theme Icon
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