The Boy in the Striped Pajamas


John Boyne

Teachers and parents! Our Teacher Edition on Striped Pajamas makes teaching easy.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas Characters


The protagonist and narrator, at the start of the novel Bruno is a nine-year-old boy living in Berlin during World War II. His Father, a Nazi officer, then moves the family to Auschwitz, Poland… read analysis of Bruno


Gretel is Bruno’s twelve-year-old sister, whom Bruno refers to as a “Hopeless Case.” She feels that she is much wiser and more mature than Bruno, and often taunts him. She is at first mostly… read analysis of Gretel


Bruno’s mother is married to Father, a Commandant in the German army. Mother is very loving towards Gretel and Bruno, but becomes stern whenever they ask too many questions or complain about moving… read analysis of Mother


Ralf, Bruno’s father, was a soldier in the Great War (World War I), and is promoted to Commandant in the German Army by Hitler during World War II. He moves the family to… read analysis of Father


The titular “boy in the striped pajamas,” Shmuel is Bruno’s Jewish friend who is kept prisoner at Auschwitz. Born on the same day as Bruno, he and Bruno become good friends, though Bruno… read analysis of Shmuel
Get the entire Striped Pajamas LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas PDF

Lieutenant Kotler

Kurt Kotler is a nineteen-year-old German soldier at Auschwitz who frequents Bruno’s home. He is well-dressed, over-cologned, and has striking blond hair—seemingly the ideal “Aryan” of Nazi ideology. Gretel develops a crush on him… read analysis of Lieutenant Kotler


Nathalie, Bruno’s grandmother and Father’s mother, was a singer in her youth, before she married Grandfather. She is very dramatic, and still loves to sing. Each Christmas, she devises a play… read analysis of Grandmother


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… read analysis of Pavel

Eva Braun

Adolf Hitler’s lifelong partner and girlfriend. She is never referred to by name in the novel, and is only described as a “beautiful woman” whom Hitler brings to dinner at Bruno’s house. Eva is… read analysis of Eva Braun
Minor Characters
Matthias, Bruno’s grandfather and Father’s father, is ten years Grandmother’s senior. He supports and is proud of Father’s role in the Nazi party, and opposes how Grandmother lashes out against Father’s new role as Commandant.
Maria is the family’s maid. Though she is secretly unhappy with Father’s role at Auschwitz, she believes he is a good man because he helped Maria’s mother when she was sick, and he took Maria in when her mother died.
The family’s butler.
Herr Liszt
Bruno and Gretel’s tutor, hired to teach them while they are living at Auschwitz. He is a supporter of the Nazi party, and teaches them geography and history in line with the party’s goals and ideals.