Study Guide

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas Morality and Ethics

By John Boyne

Morality and Ethics

For such a young boy, Bruno has an impressively strong and sound sense of morality and ethics in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. We don't think it comes from his father (a Nazi), so we can only assume he gets it from the female figures in his life (his mother and grandmother). Bruno, unlike many Nazis, does not view anyone else in his life as less or subhuman. That includes the help—Maria and Pavel—and of course Shmuel, who is Jewish. Bruno is more interested in bonds than differences, and looks for loyalty, trust, and kindness in people—qualities found in any good human being, no matter their race or class.

Questions About Morality and Ethics

  1. Who do you think teaches Bruno the difference between right and wrong? How do you know?
  2. Would you say that Bruno's father is a bad man? Why or why not? Use the text for evidence.
  3. Does anyone try to explain to Bruno why Jewish people are put in concentration camps? Point to evidence in the text.

Chew on This

Of all the characters, Bruno and his grandmother have the highest level of morality and ethics.

Gretel is an example of a child with a corrupt sense of morals.