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?
Considering that they are so isolated, it is surprising that Bruno and Gretel don't go ahead and become friends.
Bruno seems younger than nine because he seems so innocent. He has such a sweet and pure look at life in spite of all of the things that are going on around him. He still looks at things as black and white rather than seeing the grey.
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?
Once they moved to the camp, I thought they were too isolated from others to have anyone for Gretel to be a member of anything. I don't know why she wasn't a member while in Berlin.
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?
I think that having the house swarming with military personnel combined with the camp's purpose permeates the house leaving it cold and unsafe.
The mystery of who Pavel is (why a doctor is acting like a cook and waiter) and how he is treated adds to the coldness of the house. Maria's loyalty to Bruno's dad yet her occasional openness with Bruno is another mystery. Lt. Kotler's rudeness to Pavel and the creepy relationship that one can feel between Gretel and him adds to the coldness of the house. Shmuel opens up many more questions for Bruno as he tries to figure out what is going on with the people in the striped pajamas.
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?
In his innocence, Bruno is puzzled and quite empathetic when he first sees the people in the striped pajamas.
The attitude of making any group of people non-people allows the acceptance of mistreatment of them.
His father's response makes Bruno more curious about them because of the contradiction of considering any group of people as not being people.
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?
In order to co-exist with those living in a military dictatorship one has to do as told without questions. Thinking implies the ability to question which is not allowable.
I think Bruno's mother accepts the military role of her husband and enjoys the higher status that his promotion has given him.
I love that Bruno's grandmother rejects her son's military role and is able to see it for what it is rather than becoming proud of his leadership role.
I thought that the use of capital letters for phrases was interesting. It reminded me of Winnie the Pooh books.