The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

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Berlin 1942 When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move from their home to a new house far far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence running alongside stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people he can see in the distance. But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different to his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences. From the Hardcover edition.
Curriculet Details
46 Questions
49 Annotations
3 Quizzes

Designed for students in 9-10 grades, this free digital curriculum contains annotations detailing historical significance, plot clarification and literary devices. It also contains interactive videos that support comprehension, such as videos about text-to-text connections and irony (dramatic and situational). Over the course of the book, students will answer Common Core questions and quizzes related to the subjects of reading comprehension, theme, and characterization. This free online unit will increase student engagement while building reading comprehension.

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Chapter One - Bruno Makes a Discovery

Before you begin reading, please watch a reader's review of this book. It is interesting to learn what others have to say about a book before endeavoring to read it for oneself. (This annotation contains a video)
Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently. Consider trying this feature using the highlighted word. 
What type of characterization is being used in the highlighted text? 
The video below discusses the ways in which characters are introduced in a novel. As the novel progresses, watch for each type of characterization to be utilized. (This annotation contains a video)
The article below discusses the reasons that countries like Britain and Germany practiced nightly blackouts during the war. As you read, pay close attention to the ways in which this exercise kept the citizens of the towns safe. (This annotation contains a link)
In what way did nightly blackouts serve the purpose of keeping the citizens of Berlin safe? 

Chapter Two - The New House

From the highlighted words spoken by Mother, it can be assumed that she might also feel a pang of homesickness. She most likely believes that the family's situation cannot be solved by sulking. 
Re-read the highlighted paragraph. As you read, did you notice that the narrator speaks in long sentences? Why might this be? What effect does it create within the story? 

Chapter Three - The Hopeless Case

The beginning of this chapter serves to characterize Gretel. Choose the option below that is NOT an example of how she is introduced indirectly. 
The highlighted text uses personification to help describe Gretel's room. Her dolls are being given human qualities. Although dolls look like human beings, they do not actually have the ability to watch Bruno or report back to Gretel about Bruno's actions. 
Please watch the video below, which discusses the different types of point of view. What point of view is this story told from? (This annotation contains a video)
Based on the information that you just internalized in the video, what point of view is this novel told from? 

Chapter Four - What They Saw Through the Window

It is interesting to consider that this pain, as it is discussed by the narrator, could be a sense of truth welling up in Gretel's body. Have you ever had a sense that something was not right and felt your body react in a less than pleasant way? That's a person's conscience speaking. 
At this point in the novel, the children are beginning to realize that their situation is not necessarily what it seems. Choose the option from below that does NOT serve the purpose to create clues that lead them to this conclusion. 

Chapter Five - Out Of Bounds At All Times And No Exceptions

It is interesting to note that life in postwar Berlin looked nothing like what Bruno and his family left behind. According to an article written by Peter Manhood for WWII Discovery, "Berlin life was dictated by hunger, disease, lack of housing, unemployment and severe poverty. Children scavenged on rubbish tips (finding a loaf of moldy bread was a prized commodity)... Margarine, milk, coffee, meat, sugar and fresh eggs amongst other things were rationed, fruit was non-existent. Potatoes became a staple, potato handouts could be found on every street corner." Aside from the food shortages in Berlin, there were also issues with the living conditions in this bombed-out city. "Families were forced to share what habitable buildings still stood, it was not uncommon to find three or four families shoe horned into one apartment." WIth that in mind, Bruno's mother's words carry ominous meaning. 
The highlighted text contains imagery. Why do authors use this device in their writing? 
Using what was introduced in the annotation about Berlin's fate (postwar), it can be said that the next few years will spell disaster for Berlin and its people. This knowledge that the reader has, which the characters do not, translates into dramatic irony. Dramatic irony is a literary device whereby the readers know something that the characters do not. For further clarification, watch the video below. (This annotation contains a video)
What is dramatically ironic about the highlighted statements made by Bruno's father? Be sure to craft an explanation that makes it clear that you understand the definition of dramatic irony and its use in literature. 
The clip below comes from The Truman Show, a movie about a man who is a part of a reality television show. Truman Burbank, the main character of this show, has no idea that he is a part of this show and that all others on the show are actors helping to create his life. As you watch, consider how this movie's premise relates to the plot of this novel. Also, consider how the director's words relate to Bruno's father's words, which are highlighted. (This annotation contains a video)
Using what you've learned from the video clip, along with the novel's plot, choose the option from below that is NOT an example of how The Truman Show and the novel relate to one another. 

Chapter Six - The Overpaid Maid

Have you ever encountered a person in your life whom you'd never considered to have a life outside of how you know them? What elements about this person's life did he/she reveal to you to make him/her seem more real? Explain this person, and talk about what you learned about him/her that made them seem like a real person. 
It's interesting to learn that Bruno's father has a side that is very caring toward others. This is a side of a Nazi officer that is very rarely shown. Do you believe that this view is necessary to learn about? Why do you think that the author included this explanation of Bruno's father? 

Chapter Seven - How Mother Took Credit for Something That She Hadn’t Done

Why is this statement by mother so important to understand? 
The short video below includes Fred Astaire dancing with Eleanor Powell. According to, "Fred Astaire was an American dancer of stage and film who is best known for a number of successful musical comedy films in which he starred with Ginger Rogers." As you watch, try to picture what Franz looked like when he danced. (This annotation contains a video)
What inference can be made by this statement made by Mother? 
The narrator is beginning to characterize Lieutenant Kotler. By the way that the narrator describes Bruno's reaction to him, the reader begins to realize that this man is probably not a very good guy. Do you think that Bruno is a good judge of character? 
Using the Define feature, learn what the highlighted word means, then choose the option from below that offers the best synonym for this word. 
This conversation serves as another hint to Bruno that his life and new home is not what it may seem. Bruno most likely questions the truth of his circumstances often, yet he has not yet reached the conclusion that they live next to a concentration camp. 
What do the highlighted questions reveal about Bruno's character? 
It is becoming clear that Pavel has lost a large sense of who he was before coming to Out-With. The Nazis' objective of dehumanizing their victims has worked on Pavel. 
Describe your feelings about the conversation between Bruno and Pavel. Why do you think that the author/narrator decided to include Pavel's character into the novel? 
Quiz #1 

Chapter Eight - Why Grandmother Stormed Out

La Vie en Rose, translated as "Life in Pink" or "Life Through Rose-Colored Glasses," is a "the signature song of French cabaret singer Édith Piaf, written in 1945." ( This song made Piaf famous, with its lyrics that told about "retaken love and appealing to those who had survived the difficult wartime" ( As you listen, do you recognize the music? It's a well-known song that has been remade by American artists like Louis Armstrong. (This annotation contains a video)
According to the text, what is Grandmother's dream for Bruno and Gretel? 
The highlighted text contains a simile, which compares Father to a puppet. Grandmother is making her point about her feelings about Father being a high-ranking soldier in Hitler's military regime. She feels that he is simply being manipulated into doing whatever the Nazis tell him to do and thinking whatever they make him think. 
The picture below illustrates what a traditional ringmaster might wear. (This annotation contains an image)
For what reason has Bruno decided to write a letter to his grandmother? 

Chapter Nine - Bruno Remembers That He Used to Enjoy Exploration

The picture below includes a boneshaker (the bike). Can you picture Bruno's new teacher riding up the drive on one of these? (This annotation contains an image)
Read the following paragraph, then choose the characteristic from below that best describes Bruno. 
Below is a picture of authentic clothes worn by prisoners in the Nazi concentration camps. (This annotation contains an image)

Chapter Ten - The Dot That Became a Speck That Became a Blob That Became a Figure That Became a Boy

The video below discusses situational irony. Pay close attention to the definition and examples given. You will soon be asked a question about this type of irony and how it is used in the novel. (This annotation contains a video)
How are Bruno's thoughts about hunger ironic at this point in the novel? 
Do you think that this is the real reason for the boy sitting at the edge of this fence? 
According to the article, what is the main purpose of this "armband with a star on it"? 
The link below directs you to a short article, which discusses the history behind the badge currently being discussed in the text. As you read, pay close attention to the reasons that these badges were used during the Holocaust. What is your reaction to this information? (This annotation contains a link)
Why might Shmuel be speaking about his mom as if she is still teaching at his school? What do his words say about his state of mind? Why is this important? 
This is one of the first instances that the reader gets a glimpse into Bruno's feelings about his country and his patriotism. During the years leading up to the Holocaust, German children were brainwashed into believing that Germany and the Arian race was superior to all countries and races. In fact, boys ages 14-18 were bred to be soldiers, after being recruited into the Hitler Youth. It can be assumed that Bruno will soon be placed into this program. 
The highlighted text contains a simile. Bruno is comparing a dead mouse in the back of the cupboard to things that should never be discovered. He is trying to make a point. Instead, he is, without knowing it, making a pretty insightful statement about his new discovery. Do you think that his exploring of the grounds around his house rendered a positive find, or should it have been left alone? 
What event(s) contribute to the naming of this chapter? What is the meaning of the name of the chapter? Explain.  

Chapter Eleven - The Fury

A commandant during the Holocaust was responsible for overseeing all aspects of a concentration camp. Most importantly, he would be responsible for the security of this complex. 
The word that Bruno is mispronouncing is Fuhrer. According to Wikipedia, "Führer" means leader and it was "the title used by Adolf Hitler to define his role of absolute authority in Germany’s Third Reich. As early as July 1921 he had declared the Führerprinzip (“leader principle”) to be the law of the Nazi Party..." With that in mind, the current event about to take place in the novel is the arrival of Adolf Hitler into Bruno's family's home. 
What do you think is the significance of the author choosing this name for this man? What might it symbolize at this point in the novel? 
The picture below is Eva Braun, Hilter's mistress and wife (for 40 hours), before they killed themselves, near the end of the war. This is the woman being described in the highlighted text. (This annotation contains an image)

Chapter Twelve - Shmuel Thinks of an Answer to Bruno’s Question

During the time of processing at the Nazi concentration camps, new prisoners were stripped of their belongings, including their clothes, given striped uniforms (after showering), and then moved to their places in the camp. Often times, camp guards would keep valuable possessions for themselves. 
What is the importance of this statement made by Bruno? 
Describe the irony present in Bruno's thoughts about Shmuel's height and weight. What is ironic about the fact that he does not want to bring up Shmuel's body image? 
Did you know that Shmuel means "name of God" or "God has heard." This is an interesting name choice for this child because this child is not necessarily being heard by God. He is in a place that is condemning him for his religious beliefs. This name seems odd to Bruno because it is not a traditional German name. 

Chapter Thirteen - The Bottle of Wine

Czechoslovakia was a country with a population of about 15 million in the middle of the 20th century. During WWII, Germany occupied this country from 1938-1945. Notice how close Germany, Poland, and Czechoslovakia are to one another. (This annotation contains an image)
Why do you think that Bruno did not ask Shmuel to clarify this statement? Bruno is starting to realize that his new life seems very different, but he seems to be accepting it, as opposed to questioning its differences. Why do you think that this is so? 
Yet again, Bruno has revealed that he believes in his country and is proud of what his father does. Do you think that he knows what his father does? 
The video below discusses the perpetrators during the Holocaust. As you watch, consider how Mother may be considered a perpetrator. (This annotation contains a video)
Based on the information provided by the video "Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust," what part does Mother play in being considered an accomplice in this war? 
During this war, a principle known as Sippenhaft ("kin liability") was instated. According to Wikipedia, it "refers to the principle of families sharing the responsibility for a crime committed by one of its members. It is a form of collective punishment. A relative of the perpetrator could thus be punished in place or in addition to the perpetrator, depending on the circumstances." This is important to understand because Lieutenant Kotler's father's decisions and possible running from Germany could inadvertently hurt his son because of the laws attached to this principle. 
Why is Lieutenant Kotler on edge at dinner? 

Chapter Fourteen - Bruno Tells a Perfectly Reasonable Lie

What assumption can be made about Bruno's experience with bullies? 
It is interesting to note Bruno's word choices throughout the novel. Often times, he does not realize that the things that he says and thinks create ironic situations. In this instance, Bruno speaks about his large house and says that it is too small. This is ironic because he is speaking to a child whose "house" is actually too small and cramped. It's more like the one that Bruno discusses in his complaints about his own. 
Why has Bruno decided to pretend that Shmuel is his imaginary friend? 
The highlighted text contains a metaphor. Gretel is comparing Bruno to a hopeless case, making him seem ridiculous and not worthy of hope. Do you think that he is a "hopeless case"? 
Why is the highlighted text capitalized? 
Quiz #2 

Chapter Fifteen - Something He Shouldn’t Have Done

What effect does the repetition in the highlighted text create at this point in the novel?  
Yet again, we get a glimpse into the menacing nature of Lieutenant Kotler's character. How did you react to this event, as it is told by the narrator? 
This novel was first published in 1883 and was written by Robert Louis Stevenson. It is an adventure tale about pirates and buried gold. The main character ventures out to find treasure, using a map that he discovers. There have been over 50 movie and television versions of this novel. Based on what you have learned about this novel, do you think that Bruno will enjoy reading it? 
What signs reveal that Lieutenant Kotler and Mother are getting close to each other? 
Why do you think that Bruno decides not to tell Lieutenant Kotler the truth about Shmuel? 
Mood is the overall atmosphere or feeling created by a literary work. Read the highlighted text, then identify the mood that is created. Determine a descriptive word for the mood and explain your choice.  
You may have noticed that Kotler calls Bruno 'little man.' In doing this, he is trying to degrade Bruno and make him seem inferior. In this instance, this term is not endearing, as it is often used and understood under most circumstances.  
What details from the novel are left out of the movie version of this scene? Why do you think the director of the movie made those choices? Which version do you prefer? Why? 
The video below includes the scene that you just read about. As you watch, keep track of the details that are included in the novel, which are left out of the movie version. (This annotation contains a video)

Chapter Sixteen - The Haircut

Use the Define feature, in order to determine the definition for the highlighted word. Choose the option that offers the best antonym (opposite) for this word. 
The fence that separates Bruno and Shmuel serves as a barrier between these two boys and their relationship. In what other ways does this fence act as a symbol for separation in this novel? 

Chapter Seventeen - Mother Gets Her Own Way

Make an inference as to the reason that Kotler has been transferred. 
According to an article from BBC News called "A sherry could keep doctor away," Sherry has been found to have the same health benefits as red wine. This may be true, but by the way that the narrator is relaying the story to the reader, Mother is probably not drinking sherry for medicinal purposes. She is probably drinking it to calm her nerves. 
The highlighted text contains an oxymoron. The narrator is using two contradictory words, in order to make a point about the silence. Can silence really be noisy? What mood does this description create? 
Why doesn't Bruno want to leave with his mother? 

Chapter Eighteen - Thinking Up the Final Adventure

At this point in the novel, this statement means a lot more to the reader. When it was first referenced, Bruno had just discovered and met Shmuel. It is stated again, but this time, Bruno may be leaving this friend. Do you think that its current use may be foreshadowing (a hint that something is to come) anything in the novel's plot? 
How has Bruno and Shmuel's relationship evolved? 
Why do you think that this plan seems so "sensible" to the boys? 
At this point in the novel, it is clear that the climax is near. The suspense (rising action) is building, and it seems as though the reader will finally be able to "see" the boys truly meeting for the first time. How do you think that this climax will play-out? 

Chapter Nineteen - What Happened the Next Day

Analogies are language equations where the first pair of words has the same relationship as the second pair of words. For example, SIMPLE is to COMPLEX as LIGHT is to HEAVY. Both of the pairs offer opposite meanings. 
Choose the word from the list below that completes the analogy below.APPALLED is to _____________ as EXCITED is to EXUBERANT. 
Although the narrator does not speak about the prisoners working at the time of Bruno's arrival, this was a common sight to be seen at a concentration camp. (This annotation contains an image)
Choose the option from below that is NOT a way in which the camp differs from the image that Bruno had created in his mind. 
According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, marches such as these were often carried out to move prisoners from one camp to another, due in part to the liberations (setting free of prisoners) taking place around Europe. "Forced marches were especially common in late 1944 and 1945, as the SS evacuated prisoners to camps deeper within Germany. Major evacuation operations moved prisoners out of Auschwitz, Stutthof, and Gross-Rosen westward to Buchenwald, Flossenbürg, Dachau, and Sachsenhausen in winter 1944-1945." What do you think the purpose of this march is? 
What has prevented Bruno from leaving the camp and going home? 

Chapter Twenty - The Last Chapter

Is the following theme statement applicable to this novel? Why or why not? Explain below. True friendship crosses all boundaries. 
Why do you think that the author chose to end this novel with these words? How are these words ironic? 
Quiz #3