The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

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Pavel is the old Jewish man who works in the family’s house in Auschwitz. He was a doctor before he was sent to the concentration camp, and he patches up Bruno’s knee when Bruno cuts it falling off a swing. Pavel becomes thinner and frailer by the day, and is beaten (likely to death) by Kotler when he accidentally drops a wine bottle in Kotler’s lap at dinner.

Pavel Quotes in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

The The Boy in the Striped Pajamas quotes below are all either spoken by Pavel or refer to Pavel . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Innocence and Ignorance  Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the David Fickling Books edition of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas published in 2007.
Chapter 7 Quotes

“Young man,” said Pavel (and Bruno appreciated the fact that he had the courtesy to call him ‘young man’ instead of ‘little man’ as Lieutenant Kotler had), “I certainly am a doctor. Just because a man glances up at the sky at night does not make him an astronomer, you know.”

Related Characters: Pavel (speaker), Bruno, Lieutenant Kotler
Page Number: 82
Explanation and Analysis:

In an effort to defeat his boredom, Bruno creates a swing out of an old tire and a tree just outside the house. He soon falls, and hurts himself. Pavel, one of the new butlers at Auschwitz, runs out of the kitchen and takes the injured boy inside to clean up his scrapes. Bruno insists he must be taken to a doctor, but Pavel tells him he will be just fine with the bandage he has made. Bruno argues that Pavel cannot know this since he is not a doctor, and Pavel says he used to be one.

As a prisoner of the Nazis, Pavel has been captured from his home and career as a doctor to serve Father, his family, and the Nazi soldiers that visit. Able bodied Jewish men and women from every profession were forced to work in labor camps; the young, old, and those who could not work were often immediately killed. Boyne once again emphasize's Bruno's innocence by showing that he has no understanding as to why someone who is trained as a doctor would peel his vegetables and serve dinner. Bruno has been taught that the prisoners at Auschwitz are "not people at all," but this idea doesn't seem to fit with what Bruno now learns about the intelligent, friendly Pavel.

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Chapter 13 Quotes

What happened then was both unexpected and extremely unpleasant. Lieutenant Kotler grew very angry with Pavel and no one—not Bruno, not Gretel, not Mother and not even Father—stepped in to stop him doing what he did next, even though none of them could watch. Even though it made Bruno cry and Gretel grow pale.

Related Characters: Bruno (speaker), Gretel, Mother , Father , Lieutenant Kotler , Pavel
Page Number: 148
Explanation and Analysis:

Bruno notices that Pavel, the Jewish servant who once treated his wounds and claimed to be a doctor, becomes weaker each day. One night at dinner, he continually blunders his serving job, until he finally loses grip of a bottle of wine and spills it onto Lieutenant Kotler's lap. It may be inferred from this quote that Kotler beats Pavel mercilessly as punishment, and perhaps even kills him.

Though Pavel works in the home of Mother and Father, he is still considered a prisoner, and as a Jew, he is seen as less than human by the Nazis. Though such dehumanization and violence is constantly occurring on the other side of the Fence, this is seemingly the first time Bruno experiences it up close, and he is shocked. This is an important passage because it shows how complicity can be just as bad as negative action. Kotler is the one actually beating Pavel, but Father and Mother's unwillingness to stop him ends up with the same result. This is a point often made about the Holocaust—it might have been a minority of the population actually perpetrating atrocities, but the majority who stood by and did nothing about it were guilty as well.

This scene, which makes Bruno cry, also shows him further losing his innocence about the reality of his situation. It then becomes more far-fetched that he continues to remain so "innocent" and ignorant in his ensuing interactions with Shmuel. This suggests that Bruno too is trying to avoid thinking about things he doesn't want to, and thus is, in his own way, becoming complicit in the crimes he doesn't speak out against.

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Pavel Character Timeline in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

The timeline below shows where the character Pavel appears in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 7
Innocence and Ignorance  Theme Icon
Boundaries  Theme Icon
Complicity Theme Icon
...wants. Bruno asks Kotler if there are any spare tires around the house. Kotler makes Pavel, an old man who now waits on the family, take Bruno to find a tire... (full context)
Innocence and Ignorance  Theme Icon
Boundaries  Theme Icon
Family and Friendship  Theme Icon
Nationalism  Theme Icon
Complicity Theme Icon
...swing, but after a few hours of use, he falls off and scrapes his knee. Pavel, who has been keeping an eye on him from the kitchen window, comes out and... (full context)
Innocence and Ignorance  Theme Icon
Boundaries  Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Complicity Theme Icon
...Bruno’s knee, and he explains what happened with the tire swing. He tells her how Pavel brought him inside when he fell, and how he bandaged his wound. Mother looks uncomfortable,... (full context)
Chapter 9
Innocence and Ignorance  Theme Icon
Boundaries  Theme Icon
Family and Friendship  Theme Icon
Nationalism  Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Complicity Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 13
Innocence and Ignorance  Theme Icon
Boundaries  Theme Icon
Family and Friendship  Theme Icon
Nationalism  Theme Icon
...on the way when he feels like he needs a snack. Bruno asks Maria about Pavel, and inquires why he works as a waiter if he is really a doctor. Maria... (full context)
Innocence and Ignorance  Theme Icon
Boundaries  Theme Icon
Family and Friendship  Theme Icon
Complicity Theme Icon
...finds Shmuel waiting for him. He gives Shmuel the food, and asks if he knows Pavel. Shmuel says that Bruno needs to understand that there are literally thousands of people living... (full context)
Innocence and Ignorance  Theme Icon
Boundaries  Theme Icon
Family and Friendship  Theme Icon
Nationalism  Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Complicity Theme Icon
...that evening, Bruno is disappointed to see that Lieutenant Kotler is joining them for dinner. Pavel waits on them as usual, and Bruno notices that he seems to become smaller and... (full context)
Innocence and Ignorance  Theme Icon
Boundaries  Theme Icon
Family and Friendship  Theme Icon
Complicity Theme Icon
Father calls for Pavel to fill up his wine glass, and asks what is the matter with him that... (full context)
Chapter 15
Innocence and Ignorance  Theme Icon
Boundaries  Theme Icon
Family and Friendship  Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Complicity Theme Icon
...and Kotler comes outside and shoots it. Bruno is still upset with how Kotler treated Pavel, and is mad that when Father is away on business, Kotler seems to stay overnight... (full context)
Innocence and Ignorance  Theme Icon
Boundaries  Theme Icon
Family and Friendship  Theme Icon
Complicity Theme Icon
...Bruno out of the room, and calls Shmuel by the same name he used on Pavel when he instructed him to get a tire for Bruno. Bruno feels horribly ashamed for... (full context)