In Bruno's family, lies and deception are why he doesn't know what's going on around him. When he asks his mom why they're moving, for instance, she just says it's for his dad's "important" job. When he asks who the people in the striped pajamas are, his father says they're "not people." Way to be super cryptic, you two. In the end, all the lies lead to Bruno lying about where he goes and what he does in his free time—so while we can't be totally sure, it seems possible that with more transparency in his family, Bruno might have met a different end in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.
Questions About Lies and Deceit
Bruno and his grandmother are the only ones who question the status quo. Using the text, explain why each of them is willing to do so. What similarities do you notice? How about key differences?
Bruno's mom lies to him about what his dad does for a living. Why does she do this? Remember to look beyond this moment in the book to formulate your answer.
Does anyone not lie in this book? If so, who and why not? If not, what does this tell you?
Chew on This
In The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, all the lies told to Bruno do him more harm than good. Lying doesn't protect him at all.
Bruno wouldn't have been any better off if his parents had told him the truth—the horrors of the Holocaust are incomprehensible to a child, without firsthand experience.