The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Gretel Character Analysis

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 interested in her dolls, but after her lessons from the children’s tutor Herr Liszt, Gretel becomes obsessed with the changing politics of World War II, and begins to track the German army’s progress via pushpins in maps on her wall in “Out-With.” She becomes much more indoctrinated with anti-Semitic rhetoric than Bruno does, and tells Bruno that they are the “opposite” of the Jews on the other side of the fence. Gretel develops a crush on Lieutenant Kotler, and is “inconsolable” when he is transferred away.

Gretel Quotes in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

The The Boy in the Striped Pajamas quotes below are all either spoken by Gretel or refer to Gretel. 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 3 Quotes

“But what does it mean?” he asked in exasperation. “Out with what?”
“Out with the people who lived here before us, I expect,” said Gretel. “It must have to do with the fact that he didn’t do a very good job and someone said out with him and let’s get a man in who can do it right.”
“You mean Father.”

Related Characters: Bruno (speaker), Gretel (speaker), Father
Related Symbols: Out-With
Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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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:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Chapter 16 Quotes

“I’m asking you, if we’re not Jews, what were we instead?”
“We’re the opposite,” said Gretel, answering quickly and sounding a lot more satisfied with this answer. “Yes, that’s it. We’re the opposite.”

Related Characters: Bruno (speaker), Gretel (speaker)
Page Number: 183
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 17 Quotes

He paused for a moment and looked out the window to his left—the window that led off to a view of the camp on the other side of the fence. “When I think about it, perhaps she is right. Perhaps this is not a place for children.”

Related Characters: Father (speaker), Bruno, Gretel, Mother
Related Symbols: Out-With, The Fence
Page Number: 190
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Gretel Character Timeline in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

The timeline below shows where the character Gretel appears in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Innocence and Ignorance Theme Icon
Boundaries Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...and Grandfather live nearby. He privately wishes that instead of bringing along his twelve-year-old sister Gretel, whom he thinks is a “Hopeless Case,” that the family could bring along his grandparents... (full context)
Chapter 3
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Bruno, who often does not get along with his twelve-year-old sister Gretel, secretly wishes she could have stayed behind in Berlin. Three years his elder, he has... (full context)
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Bruno runs into Gretel’s room to find her arranging her dolls in her new bedroom. The siblings theorize about... (full context)
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Bruno tells Gretel that he doesn’t like it in the new house, and she agrees with him again.... (full context)
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Bruno finally gives in to Gretel’s demands that he explain what he meant by seeing other children, and he pulls his... (full context)
Chapter 4
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Outside the window, Gretel realizes that what Bruno has seen are not just children: they are men of all... (full context)
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Gretel and Bruno are confused as to who would “build such a nasty-looking place.” Bruno guesses... (full context)
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...groups of soldiers to a place where they could no longer be seen.” Bruno and Gretel are both confused as to why their Father would move them from a nice street... (full context)
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...scatter, until the soldier tells them to get into a single line, and he laughs. Gretel wonders if it’s some kind of rehearsal, even though most of the children look like... (full context)
Chapter 5
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...Bruno says his grandparents are back in Berlin, but Father says that having Mother and Gretel close by is more important. Bruno goes on to complain that his friends and the... (full context)
Chapter 6
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...slams so loudly downstairs that it seems like a gunshot. It turns out to be Gretel, who comes into Bruno’s bedroom. She demands that Maria run her a bath. Bruno tells... (full context)
Chapter 7
Innocence and Ignorance Theme Icon
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...find the materials. He sees Lieutenant Kotler (the blond young soldier Bruno saw before) and Gretel speaking together outside, and Bruno is reminded of the cold atmosphere that surrounds the Lieutenant.... (full context)
Chapter 8
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...being the center of attention at family parties. Grandmother liked the idea of Bruno and Gretel following her love of the spotlight, and every Christmas and birthday party, she would organize... (full context)
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...but that only alerts the adults that the children are still present, and he and Gretel are sent to their rooms. (full context)
Chapter 9
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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... (full context)
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One day Father decides that Bruno and Gretel should resume their studies. A few days later, a man named Herr Liszt comes to... (full context)
Chapter 11
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...“the Fury” incorrectly, but fails to instruct him on the proper way to say it. Gretel tells Bruno that the Fury runs the country. Father speculates that the Fury will bring... (full context)
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An hour before the Fury is scheduled to arrive, Gretel and Bruno are summoned to Father’s office, one of the rare occasions they are allowed... (full context)
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...and Eva stay at the dinner table for the better part of two hours, and Gretel and Bruno are not invited to come say goodbye when they depart. From outside his... (full context)
Chapter 13
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...if he has any sisters. Shmuel says he doesn’t, and Bruno tells his friend about Gretel, a “Hopeless Case,” and how annoying she is when she flirts with Lieutenant Kotler. Shmuel... (full context)
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...in Out-With because they are “correcting history.” Bruno still complains that it is boring, and Gretel tells Lieutenant Kotler to forgive her brother, because he is an “ignorant little boy.” Bruno... (full context)
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...though none of them could watch.” What Kotler does to Pavel makes Bruno cry, and Gretel grow pale. Later that night, Bruno reminisces on how kind Pavel was towards him, and... (full context)
Chapter 14
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...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... (full context)
Chapter 16
Innocence and Ignorance Theme Icon
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...Lieutenant Kotler has been transferred away from Out-With, much to the dismay of Mother and Gretel and to the delight of Bruno. Gretel is now going through “a phase” that means... (full context)
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...Bruno considers talking to his parents about letting Shmuel out, but decides to talk to Gretel instead. (full context)
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Gretel had become obsessed with maps and following events in the newspaper, and has thrown away... (full context)
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Bruno is still confused, but Gretel interrupts their conversation to shriek that she has found a tiny egg in her hair.... (full context)
Chapter 17
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Life goes on as usual for several weeks. Gretel becomes more obsessed with her maps, and Mother takes more naps and drinks more “medicinal... (full context)
Chapter 20
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...Out-With for some time, hoping Bruno will turn up. When she does return to Berlin, Gretel notices that Mother spends most of her time crying, and Gretel, too, misses Bruno very... (full context)