The boy in striped pajamas

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas 1 (in English The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas ) is a novel for the genre of drama of 2006 the author Irishman John Boyne . As of 2012, more than five million copies of the work have been sold worldwide and have been translated into more than 30 languages. 2 In 2007 and 2008 was the best selling book of the year in Spain . It has also reached number one on The New York Times sales chartsand has also been No. 1 in the UK , Ireland , Australia and other countries . [ Citation needed ]

The action is told from the innocent perspective of Bruno, the son of an officer of the Schutzstaffel Nazi who moves with his family to a place called “Auschwitz” (in the original English version Out-With ), which is but the extermination camp of Auschwitz . Bruno befriends a Jewish boy named Shmuel who lives on the other side of a fence and who, like other people there, wears a striped pajamas .

Its success made that a film adaptation was made that was released in 2008 . Unlike the other books he has written, Boyne said that he wrote the first sketch of The Boy in Striped Pajamas in two and a half days, without hardly sleeping until he wrote the ending. 3


The action is told from the point of view of Bruno, the nine year old son in April of a senior military Nazi . He and his family are forced to leave Berlin when his father intended to work in the extermination camp of Auchwitz . The family accepts the change with resignation. From the window of his new room Bruno points out a grid behind which people always wear “striped pajamas”; They are actually prisoners Jews . Exploring the surroundings of his new home, Bruno meets through a grille to Shmuel. Shmuel tells the story of his deportation and the terrible conditions of life in the country.


Main characters

  • Bruno: He is the protagonist of the story. He is fearless, curious and sometimes suspicious. The most characteristic feature of his personality is his excess of innocence.
  • Shamuel: He’s Jewish, and befriends Bruno. He is being held in the Auschwitz concentration camp, along with his family. He is thin and has a shaved head.

Secondary Characters

  • Elsa: She is the mother of Bruno and Gretel
  • Gretel: It’s Bruno’s older sister.
  • Maria: She is the maid of the family.
  • Lieutenant Kotler: It’s the commander’s lieutenant “ball.” He befriends Gretel and Bruno’s mother because he was always at home, but he gains the child’s antipathy. It is destined for the battlefield and does not reappear.
  • Pavel: The waiter and assistant of the house of Auschwitz. He is a Jew and practiced medicine before going to the concentration camp. It is implied that Kotler beats and mistreats him in Chapter 13.
  • Grandfather Matthias: He agrees with the actions of his son, Bruno’s father, and supports him.
  • Grandma Nathalie: It’s against Hitler and his son’s work.
  • Ralf: He is the father of Bruno and he looks very happy with his work.

Characters that appear but do not intervene

  • Adolf Hitler “The Fuhrer”: It is the dictator of Germany and the one who ordered to send the Jews to the concentration camps .
  • Eva Braun : She is the lover of Hitler, appears accompanying “El Fuhrer” at dinner.
  • Herr Liszt: He is the tutor of Bruno and Gretel in Auschwitz.
  • Karl, Daniel and Martin; Isabel, Hilda and Louise: The first three are Bruno’s friends in Berlin, and the other three are Gretel’s.
  • Lars: He’s the family butler in Berlin.
  • Grandma Nathalie: She is the mother of Commander Ralph (father of Bruno). It is against the thoughts of his son and that is why they do not speak.
  • Grandfather Matthias: He is the father of Commander Ralph (father of Bruno). Unlike his mother, he supports and encourages his son in his work.
  • Luka: It’s Shmuel’s former roommate, whom he mistreated.
  • Josef: He’s Shmuel’s brother.
  • Herr Roller: He’s a crazy man who always made Bruno laugh.


In spite of its appearance of children’s literature, the terrible background in which history runs has made some scholars doubt its suitability for younger readers. Thus, Ed Wright of the Australian newspaper The Age suggested that reading could make parents forced to “have to explain the Holocaust.” By contrast, Kathryn Hughes of The Guardian does consider it a gentle enough approach to the subject. Boyne himself said the book is “unlike anything I’ve ever done before. I think it may be a children’s book, but I think adults might like it too.” 5


  • John Boyne: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas . ISBN 0-385-75153-2
  • Gemma Rovira: John Boyne: The boy in the striped pajamas . ISBN 978-84-9838-079-8 (multiple editions)


Main article: The boy with striped pajamas (film)

In 2008 a film adaptation of the novel by Miramax / Disney , starring Asa Butterfield , Jack Scanlon , David Thewlis , Vera Farmiga , Sheila Hancock and Rupert Friend was filmed . The international premiere took place during the 56th edition of San Sebastian Festival .


  1. Back to top↑ The eminent lexicographer Manuel Seco believes that the correct translation would be The boy in striped pajamas . [1]
  2. Back to top↑ «Humor and cruelty are an excellent combination» El País . Retrieved on December 5, 2013.
  3. Back to top↑ Sarah Webb. “Interview with Children’s Author John Boyne (2006)” (in English) . Archived from the original on November 24, 2015 . Consulted the 23 of February of 2007 .
  4. Back to top↑ Boyne, John. The boy in striped pajamas . Salamander. P. 19. ISBN  0-385-75153-2 . : “The house in Berlin was enormous, and even though Bruno had lived in it for nine years …”