The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Striped Pajamas Symbol Analysis

Striped Pajamas Symbol Icon

Bruno notices immediately that everyone behind the fence at Auschwitz is wearing what he sees as “striped pajamas.” Shmuel must wear them all the time, and they are what Bruno uses as a disguise when he sneaks into the camp with Shmuel. Bruno, as a nine-year-old boy with little to no understanding of what happens inside the camp, thinks the pajamas are some kind of comfortable clothing—when in fact they are prison uniforms meant to delineate the Jews in the camp from the German population at large. The striped pajamas thus represent an artificial branding of people to denote they are different from others. The Nazis engaged in this kind of branding in many ways—Jews were forced to wear the Star of David on their clothing, while the Nazi supporters themselves wore red armbands with black swastikas to show their allegiance to Hitler. Of course, such branding is ultimately superficial when it comes to life, death, and human dignity. Bruno tragically acts out this truth when he, the son of a Nazi Commandant, dies along with the Jews Father and Hitler hope to exterminate, simply because he looks like the rest of the tortured prisoners with his shaved head and dirty “striped pajamas.” The striped pajamas thus symbolize Bruno’s childish innocence about the world’s horrors, but also how dangerous divisions and artificial branding can be as a part of racist ideologies.

Striped Pajamas Quotes in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

The The Boy in the Striped Pajamas quotes below all refer to the symbol of Striped Pajamas. 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 4 Quotes

…all of them—the small boys, the big boys, the fathers, the grandfathers, the uncles, the people who lived on their own on everybody’s road but didn’t seem to have any relatives at all—were wearing the same clothes as each other: a pair of grey striped pajamas with a grey striped cap on their heads.

Related Characters: Bruno (speaker)
Related Symbols: Striped Pajamas
Page Number: 38
Explanation and Analysis:

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

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.

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.

A+

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other The Boy in the Striped Pajamas quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
Chapter 10 Quotes

Bruno was sure that he had never seen a skinnier or sadder boy in his life but decided that he had better talk to him.

Related Characters: Bruno (speaker), Shmuel
Related Symbols: Striped Pajamas, The Fence
Page Number: 107
Explanation and Analysis:

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 ess

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.

Get the entire Striped Pajamas LitChart as a printable PDF.
The boy in the striped pajamas.pdf.medium

Striped Pajamas Symbol Timeline in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

The timeline below shows where the symbol Striped Pajamas appears in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4
Innocence and Ignorance Theme Icon
Boundaries Theme Icon
Nationalism Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Complicity Theme Icon
...before: everyone, grandfathers and fathers and little boys, are all wearing “a pair of grey striped pajamas and a grey striped cap on their heads.” (full context)
Chapter 10
Innocence and Ignorance Theme Icon
Boundaries Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
...other, they say “Hello” to one another. Bruno notices that the boy is wearing the striped pajamas he has seen all of the people outside the window wearing, including a striped cap... (full context)
Chapter 14
Innocence and Ignorance Theme Icon
Boundaries Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Complicity Theme Icon
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... (full context)
Chapter 17
Innocence and Ignorance Theme Icon
Boundaries Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Nationalism Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Complicity Theme Icon
...that he has observed them from his window, and has noticed that they all wear striped pajamas . Bruno says he has seen them, but has not been watching them. Father announces... (full context)
Chapter 18
Innocence and Ignorance Theme Icon
Boundaries Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
...will get in trouble, but he has an idea—Shmuel could bring Bruno a pair of striped pajamas that he could change into and slip under the fence the following day. With Bruno’s... (full context)
Chapter 19
Innocence and Ignorance Theme Icon
Boundaries Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
...Bruno realize that he must go through with the plan to please his friend. The striped pajamas are smelly, but he changes into them anyway. They remind Bruno of the costumes he... (full context)