The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas Chapter 9 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
For a while, most things at Out-With remain the same—Gretel is unfriendly to Bruno, and Bruno misses Berlin, though his specific memories of his old home begin to fade. The soldiers come and go, and Lieutenant Kotler is a constant presence in the house, where he is either whispering with Mother or humoring Gretel as she tries to flirt with him. The servants keep the house neat, and do so in near silence. Pavel continues to come and peel the vegetables before dinner is cooked, and Bruno catches him glancing at the tiny scar on Bruno’s knee. Otherwise, Pavel and Bruno never speak.
With Father often out of the house, Lieutenant Kotler often seems to take his place as “patriarch.” Gretel, in the throes of adolescence and as bored with Auschwitz as Bruno is, develops a crush on him. It is never specifically stated, but it’s implied that Mother actually starts having an affair with Kotler in Father’s absence. Bruno still acts innocent and naïve, but clearly recognizes that something is different about Pavel and how his family treats 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
One day Father decides that Bruno and Gretel should resume their studies. A few days later, a man named Herr Liszt comes to the house to teach the children each day. Although he is friendly enough, Bruno senses that there is an “anger inside him just waiting to get out.” He prefers to teach Gretel and Bruno about history and geography, though Bruno wants to read and study art. Herr Liszt chastises Bruno for not knowing much about his country’s history, and all the “great wrongs” that have been done to him and the Fatherland. Bruno, confused, thinks this means he will finally understand why he was moved away from Berlin against his will.
Herr Liszt is clearly a Nazi, and a teacher approved by Father and the Party itself. Nazi ideology was not only spread by violence or speechifying, but also through the indoctrination of children. This included academic types (like Herr Liszt) endorsing pseudoscientific views about racial superiority, as well as teaching edited versions of history that supported German nationalism and condemned minorities, Jews, and Communists. Despite all this, Bruno somehow still remains ignorant of who the people are in the camp. This extended, almost impossible naiveté either shows how Bruno actively avoids thinking about what he senses to be true, or else it is Boyne being rather unrealistic to emphasize the message of his “fable.”
Themes
Innocence and Ignorance  Theme Icon
Boundaries  Theme Icon
Nationalism  Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Complicity Theme Icon
A few days later, Bruno is in his room, thinking about all the things he was able to do in Berlin but has not been able to do since moving to Out-With. He realizes that he misses exploring, and decides to investigate the grounds outside the house. He chooses to go explore the fence, even though he has been told it is off-limits. On his way to the fence, he stops at a bench with a plaque on it—he has seen it for months, but has never taken the time to read it. Bruno discovers that the plaque says “Presented on the occasion of the opening of Out-With Camp, June nineteen forty.” Bruno continues on his way to the fence, ignoring his parents’ words as they repeat themselves in his mind, forbidding him to go near the fence or camp, “With No Exceptions.”
With little to no adult supervision besides his time with Herr Liszt, Bruno finally gets fed up with his boredom and decides that he should explore the house and the grounds that surround it. He has been told to stay away from the camp, but not why—and so, as a sheltered nine-year-old boy who may have “explored” Berlin but was always kept safe and ignorant of unpleasant realities, he now assumes that he may as well go explore the forbidden fence.
Themes
Innocence and Ignorance  Theme Icon
Boundaries  Theme Icon
Family and Friendship  Theme Icon
Nationalism  Theme Icon