Study Guide

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas Family

By John Boyne


From the very beginning of <em>The Boy in the Striped Pajamas</em>, there's a sense of fragmentation and isolation in Bruno's family. He comes home to find his things being packed by the maid, Maria, and his father's in Auschwitz before we even finish the first page. Once they move to the new house, his parents and Gretel more or less fade into the background—we get the sense that Bruno is on his own. A lot. If his father isn't at the concentration camp, he's in his office, and his mom's often napping or taking medicinal Sherries. And Gretel? Only dolls and maps for her, so buzz off. No wonder Bruno longs for a friend.

Questions About Family

  1. What sort of relationship do Bruno's parents have with each other? How would you describe it? Find evidence in the text to support your answer.
  2. Is Bruno a mama's boy or a daddy's boy? Again, give examples from the text to prove your point.
  3. Do you think Bruno is affected by the looseness of his family unit? Why or why not?
  4. How would you describe the relationship between Bruno and Gretel?

Chew on This

Bruno's family is to blame for what happens to him in Auschwitz. If they weren't so closed off to him—and if they were more willing to answer his questions—he never would have gone under the fence.

In this book, family only hurts you—they either aren't there when you need them, or they get taken from you and leave you heartbroken.