Bruno’s family soon travels far away to move into their new home, which Bruno decides is the “exact opposite of their old home.” This house has three floors instead of five, and rather than standing on a populated street near the center of town, it stands alone in a desolate place, with no other families around. The only similarity is that Father has another office in this house, which is also off-limits to Bruno. Bruno desperately misses the hustle and bustle of Berlin, in particular the shops with fruits and vegetables, as well as his three best friends Karl, Daniel, and Martin.
Though Bruno’s new home is physically different from the one in Berlin, the social stratifications are similar: the servants are subordinate to Bruno’s family, Bruno is largely left alone for his own entertainment, and Father remains an aloof and vaguely menacing figure who is not to be disturbed. We are given few details of Bruno’s childhood in Berlin, but by all accounts it seems idyllic, sheltered, and fun—an ideal sort of growing up.
Bruno tells Mother that he thinks moving was a bad idea, and she chastises him for saying such a thing. She says that “some people” make all the decisions for the household. When Mother wants to refer to Father without naming him, Bruno notices that she always calls him “some people.” She instructs Bruno to go help Maria with the unpacking, as the family will be in the new house for the “foreseeable future.”
Mother, though dutiful in maintaining the household for Father, clearly harbors her own resentments for his strict rules and her own relative powerlessness in the family dynamic. The Nazis emphasized traditional family structures, with the “man of the house” making all the decisions, and the women and children remaining submissive.
Bruno goes to help Maria unpack, peering into rooms in the house as he goes. He decides that the house is not a home, and never will be. He asks Maria what she thinks of the move, and she says it is not her place to criticize the new house. As they are talking, a young man with bright blond hair and wearing a soldier’s uniform enters the room. He looks strict. He nods at Bruno and then leaves. Maria guesses that he is one of Father’s soldiers.
Bruno feels out of place in their new home, which lacks the hustle and bustle that he loved in Berlin. When he asks Maria what she thinks about the new house, she clearly has much to say on the topic, but holds back due to her place as a servant. The Nazis emphasized an invented “Aryan” race of blonde-haired, “superior” people, so this young soldier (Kotler, as we later learn) seems to perfectly fit their ideal.
Bruno, now very upset, tells Maria about his fear of not having any other children to play with. Trying to hold back his tears, he goes over to the window. In his room in Berlin, he was able to see clear across the city from the window. There is no city to see here, but what Bruno does sees outside the window makes his mouth become “the shape of an O,” and makes him feel “very cold and unsafe.”
Noticing the lack of other homes in the vicinity, Bruno feels dread for the loneliness he knows he will face, especially as he is used to having his three “best friends” around him in Berlin. With this “cliffhanger” ending, Boyne seems to suggest that we will soon learn more about what Father does, and why the family has moved.