6. When Bruno and his family boarded the train for Auschwitz, he noticed an over-crowded train headed in the same direction. How does he later make the connection between Shmuel and that train? How are both trains symbolic of each boy’s final journey?
In his conversations with Shmuel, Bruno realizes that while they took the luxurious train Shmuel was on the over-crowded train. It is surprising that naiive Bruno does not realize that Shmuel could not have ridden on his less crowded train.
7. Bruno issues a protest about leaving Berlin. His father responds, “Do you think that I would have made such a success of my life if I hadn’t learned when to argue and when to keep my mouth shut and follow orders?” (p. 49) What question might Bruno’s father ask at the end of the novel?
Bruno's father probably wishes he would have made a better decision in terms of when to argue. Although there is some truth to success in life being determined by knowing when to argue and when to keep still, this is an example of taking this advice to the extreme in far the wrong direction. A reminder of the statement about not speaking up when the persecutions began because it was someone different and then there being no one left when the speaker was persecuted (poorly rephrased, but I hope you are familiar with this quote).
8. What does Gretel mean when she says, “Something about the way [Bruno] was watching made her feel suddenly nervous”? (p. 28) How does this statement foreshadow Bruno’s ultimate demise?
Gretel may have had intuition about the ultimate end of Bruno, but she may have also just realized that what was going on outside his bedroom window was evil even though no one talked about it or wanted to acknowledge it.
9. A pun is most often seen as humorous. But, in this novel the narrator uses dark or solemn puns like Out-With and Fury to convey certain meanings. Bruno is simply mispronouncing the real words, but the author is clearly asking the reader to consider a double meaning to these words. Discuss the use of this wordplay as a literary device. What is the narrator trying to convey to the reader? How do these words further communicate the horror of the situation?
I think that Bruno's mispronunciations hit the truth right on the head and is a meaningful play on the "correct" words. Although people tried to correct him, I think that his words did portray the truth. Since the book is written in English, the errors work well to point out the truth, I don't know German or Polish but suspect that the same errors would not work in these languages.
10. When Bruno dresses in the filthy striped pajamas, he remembers something his grandmother once said. “You wear the right outfit and you feel like the person you’re pretending to be.” (p, 205) How is this true for Bruno? What about his father? What does this statement contribute to the overall meaning of the story?
The grandmother sure hit the truth with her saying which is similar to "clothes make the man". I think that the fact that people behave and are treated based on how they dress is another support for the use of school uniforms.
As soon as Bruno put on the pajamas, he felt like a one of the prisoners and was obviously treated like one by the soldiers. His father wore the Nazi uniform and acted like one. The way a person is treated is too often based on superficial things such as clothes while ignoring the fact that the person in whatever clothes is a person with the same rights and feelings that others having different clothes or religions or wealth has.
11. Discuss the moral or message of the novel. What new insights and understandings does John Boyne want the reader to gain from reading this story?
I think Boyne was trying to help readers gain a better understanding of both the Nazis and their families as well as to the Jews. People are people no matter which side they are on.