For the next few weeks, Bruno continues to slip out of the house after his lessons end for the day, and he spends time talking to Shmuel through the fence until it is time for him to return home for dinner. One day Shmuel has a black eye, but he doesn’t tell Bruno how he got it. Bruno assumes it must have been the work of a bully, like the ones he encountered in school in Berlin. Every day Bruno asks Shmuel if he can crawl under the fence so they can play, but Shmuel is afraid to get in trouble. Shmuel says the world on his side of the fence isn’t that great, and Bruno says his life isn’t great, either—his house has only three floors, as opposed to their old house, which had five. Bruno completely forgets Shmuel’s story about living in one room with eleven people.
As Shmuel and Bruno continue to develop their friendship, Bruno still avoids looking too closely at the truth, and keeps projecting his own life onto Shmuel’s. Even after seeing the brutal beating of Pavel by Kotler, Bruno does not (or does not want to) infer that a soldier causes Shmuel’s black eye. Instead, he draws from his own experience and life of relative luxury, and thinks it is perhaps a schoolyard bully who caused the injury. Bruno continues to complain about his own living situation, and doesn’t seem to pay much attention to his “friend’s” struggles.
One day Bruno asks Shmuel why he and everyone else only wear the striped pajamas. Shmuel says that that is what they were given to wear when they came to Out-With, and their other clothes were taken away. Bruno says they must have other clothes they want to wear, and says he doesn’t like the stripes, even though he actually does like stripes. Shmuel opens his mouth as if he wants to reply, but then decides to say nothing.
Shmuel does not counter Bruno’s extreme ignorance, likely because speaking about the horrors he encounters every day would only cause him further pain. The boys’ conversations seem to be a daily escape for both of them. For the few hours that he talks with Bruno, Shmuel is able to distract himself from the terrors of the camp.
A few days later, it is raining very hard outside and Bruno realizes he will not be able to visit his friend. He feels badly, and has a hard time concentrating on reading in his bedroom after his lessons have ended for the day. Gretel comes into his room, and they bicker as usual. Bruno complains about the rain, and says that he should be with Shmuel, before realizing that he should not have mentioned his new friend. Gretel demands he explain, but Bruno pretends he didn’t say anything. Eventually, he leads her to believe that he has an imaginary friend, and convinces her that he is ashamed to admit this. Bruno tells Gretel that they talk about life in Berlin, and he even lets slip some of the stories that Shmuel has told him about having to leave his home in Poland. Gretel seems delighted to have some kind of embarrassing information on Bruno, but she warns him not to let Father know—he will think Bruno has gone mad. She flounces back to her room to rearrange her dolls. Bruno tries to go back to reading his book, but has lost interest. He wonders if Shmuel is missing their daily conversation as much as he does.
Bruno still clings to his innocence and ignorance, but also realizes that it would be highly unwise to reveal to Gretel that he has a friendship with someone who lives on the other side of the fence. Though he doesn’t fully understand what the physical divide of the fence means in terms of the war, Bruno’s intuition, as usual, tells him what he would rather not think further about—that his family would not condone him being friends with someone who lives on the other side. Not being able to talk to Shmuel for this one day reminds Bruno how reliant he has become on their daily conversations. Boyne again stretches the historical truth in suggesting that a boy would be able to slip away from the guards of Auschwitz every single day, for multiple hours at a time.