1. Discuss the relationship between Bruno and Gretel. Why does Bruno seem younger than nine? In a traditional fable, characters are usually one-sided. How might Bruno and Gretel be considered one-dimensional?
It seems like a typical, if simplified, sibling relationship at those ages. At first, I thought Bruno seemed older than nine but then I realized he was just parroting things he'd heard adults say without really understanding what they meant. He also doesn't seem to know much about what's going on around him. So far, Gretel exists only as Bruno sees her. As he thinks she is a "Hopeless Case," we doesn't hear a lot about her because he doesn't seem to think about her much unless she's present. Bruno is less one-dimensional as he is the narrator but he repeats himself a lot and seems confused often (this might have more to do with what his parents actually tell him or choose to shield him from). We might see growth of his character in the second part.
2. At age 12, Gretel is the proper age for membership in the League of Young Girls, a branch of Hitler’s Youth Organization. Why do you think she is not a member, especially since her father is a high-ranking officer in Hitler's army?
I would speculated it's because either her mother has opposing views from her father and doesn't want her to be or her father knows what is entailed and doesn't want his daughter to take part.
3. What is it about the house at Out-With that makes Bruno feel “cold and unsafe”? How is this feeling perpetuated as he encounters people like Pavel, Maria, Lt. Kotler, and Shmuel?
The house at Out-With is different from Bruno's old house like Out-With is different from Berlin. Berlin is a bustling city which Bruno knows and understands his corner of. Out-With is in the middle of nowhere and Bruno can't make sense of what is happening behind the fence, where he is, or how he got there. The house at Out-With is smaller and plainer while the house in Berlin was larger and nicer with more places to explore.
The people/situations Bruno encounters at Out-With are also different from at home in Berlin. He doesn't yet know how to make sense of them. Pavel is a doctor who doesn't work as a doctor but as a servant. Maria has had a conversation with him unlike any they have had before. While soldiers visited the house in Berlin, they did not seem to be present as much as Lt. Kotler nor did Bruno seem to find them as distasteful. Bruno seems delighted to find a boy his own age and possibly a friend in Shmuel but he is very different from him and seems to know more than him.
4. Describe Bruno's reaction when he first sees the people in the striped pajamas. Bruno asks his father about the people outside their house at Auschwitz. His father answers, “They’re not people at all Bruno.” (p. 53) Discuss the horror of this attitude. How does his father’s statement make Bruno more curious about Out-With?
Bruno makes an O with his mouth and opens his eyes wide like he does when he is surprised but doesn't stretch his arms out because he feels "very cold and unsafe." (pg 20) He shows Gretel what is outside his window shortly after and the children try to figure out where they are.
Bruno doesn't understand what his father means by the statement and is unsatisfied with his explanation. To Bruno, another person has to be a person. "And were they really so different?" "What exactly was the difference? ... And who decided which people wore the striped pajamas and which people wore the uniforms?" "It was as if it were another city entirely..." (pg 100)
5. Explain what Bruno’s mother means when she says, “We don’t have the luxury of thinking.” (p. 13) Identify scenes from the novel that Bruno’s mother isn’t happy about their life at Out-With. Debate whether she is unhappy being away from Berlin, or whether she is angry about her husband’s position. How does Bruno’s grandmother react to her son’s military role?
Bruno's mother means that the children and she don't have a choice in the matter. They have to do what they are told. She refers to Bruno's father as "some people" when she disagrees with something he has say or done. She also left Out-With at one point to visit a near by town. I think she is both unhappy being away from Berlin, her home and possibly the only place she's even lived, and angry about her husband's position, her Mother at least has opposing views so she might as well. Bruno's grandmother clearly disagrees with how her son chooses to live his life and has no trouble voicing how she feels to him.