What is the moral of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas?

This cautionary tale is about two boys, one the son of a commandant and the other a Jew, who come face-to-face at a barbed wire fence that separates, and eventually intertwines their lives. The novel is set during the Holocaust, Bruno is only nine-years-old when his father is transferred from Berlin to Auschwitz. The house at “Out-With,” as Bruno calls it, is small, dark, and strange. He spends long days gazing out the window of his new bedroom, where he notices people dressed in striped pyjamas and rows of barracks surrounded by a barbed wire fence. Bored and lonely, and not really understanding the circumstance of his new existence, Bruno sets out to explore the area and discovers Shmuel, a very thin Jewish boy who lives on the other side of the fence. An unlikely friendship develops between the two boys, but when Bruno learns that his mother plans to take her children back to Berlin, he makes a last effort to explore the forbidden territory where the boy in the striped pyjamas lives.

We have read and discussed the novel now so what do you think the moral or message of the novel is? What new insights and understandings does John Boyne want the reader to gain from reading this story?

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82 thoughts on “What is the moral of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas?

  1. The moral of the story, ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’, is that you should treat people how you would like to be treated at all times.

    Also that you have to stand up for what you believe in and not just follow the crowd.

    • Dear Anonymous,
      Im David and im 14 years of age and im catholic Christian and,i agree about the first moral that you have stated although with the second one i believe your refering to the Father only as the mother and the other charcters in the book dont really like the fact that the father is killing jews.

      • I don’t think what you said about the second moral is true. The mother should have truly stood up to father and not take her medicinal sherries to get away from it all.

  2. I think the boy in the striped pyjamas moral is that to treat people how you would like to be treated and that everyone is the same no matter what race or belief.

  3. I think the moral of the boy in the striped pyjamas is that no matter what anyone looks like or what they beleive in you should always treat them how you would like to be treated.

  4. I think the moral of ‘The boy in the striped pyjamas’ is to treat people how you want to be treated, because karmas a *&%^#. The book showed me the true horrors of the Holocaust without having to describing the awful truth. I especially liked that John Boyne used a young naive boy to get his moral across. I think it worked incredibly well.

  5. I believe that the moral of the boy in the striped pyjamas is that everyone should be treated equally. It doesn’t matter what race or religion you are you have the right to be treated the same. It’s like the old saying goes treat others the way you want to be treated so if you think its right to lock people in gas houses perhaps you should be locked in a gas house yourself.

  6. I think ‘The boy in the striped pyjamas is to teach people that no matter what the colour of their skin or their religion no one deserves to be discriminated or treated differently to others. Treat others the way you would like to be treated!

  7. I think that there are two morals in The Boy in the striped pyjamas, one is that everyone will cross a fence in their life and it’s up to you what you make of it. Also the moral of what goes around comes around because Bruno’s father was doing all those horrible things to the Jews and then he loses a loved one (Bruno) and the reality sets in.

  8. I think that the moral of the story “The Boy in the Striped pyjamas” is that you should never discriminate, or treat others how you yourself wouldn’t like to be treated.
    I also think that the author is trying to stress the point of how what goes around comes around, and people are people, regardless of the colour of their skin, their religion or their race, as each and everyone of us are the same on the inside in the trend that we have the same feelings and all human beings are the same.
    I also feel that the author is trying to open up peoples’ eyes on how horrific the camps really were and how they had no mercy, no reason to kill and basically no knowledge of what they were really commiting. He shows that nobody could escape the evils of the Nazi party, and even the son of a high ranking soldier could be mistaken as the boys they hate and kill everyday.

  9. I think the moral is treat people how you want to be treated and if you do thing that aren’t right to them then things that happen to you wont be right. Karma. eg Kill and be killed.

  10. Toby – The moral of the story is that people can’t be judged on what they look like or what they believe in. The Nazi soldiers could not tell the difference between a hated Jew and the beloved son of their own commandant. Treat others fairly and don’t discriminate to others until you have walked in their shoes.

    Rebecca – A moral of the boy in the striped pyjamas is that if you make yourself oblivious to what is happening then it won’t get any better. For example, the German people didn’t do anything to stop Hitler. Bruno,s mother was one of these people. Maybe one person is too insignificant to make a difference but if everybody thinks that than it won’t help. People need to believe that they can all do something to stop cruelty.

  11. I think this summary of the boy in striped pyjamas explains the outline of the book and the morale of the story. It shows that bruno doesn’t know what is happening. It also shows that what goes around can come back around.

  12. I think the moral of the ‘Boy in the Striped Pajamas’ is to not turn your back on things you know are wrong. Bruno’s family knew about what was happening over the fence but none of them ever told Bruno. It was their fault that what happened to Bruno happened. If it wasn’t for Bruno taking part in what happened to the Jews they would have never have come to full terms with what the Jews felt.

  13. I think that the moral of ‘The boy in the striped pyjama’s’ is that were all equal to each other, if we were in the same clothes no one could tell each other apart just like Bruno when he ventured into the death camp.

  14. I think that the moral of “the boy in the striped pyjamas” is no matter what race you are or what religion you are you have the same rights and needs as everybody else.

  15. I think that the moral of the story “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas” is that everyone is the same and that they should be treated the same. Just because someone has a different skin color or different beliefs/religion doesn’t mean that they are better or worse than you and that if you don’t stand up for what you believe in or for what is right then nothing is going to change or make your situation better.

  16. The moral is when you create a hate machine as evil as that of the holocaust, you create a beast that you can easily lose control of. The arms of this beast can reach out and pluck even the most seemingly immune from the most seemingly secure of places, and create a victim of them.

    Basically Bruno was someone who would be the utmost immune to becoming a holocaust victim being that his father was the one in control of Auschwitz. His father, who in his madness became more and more distant from true humanity, was defeated by the most core of all humanity: The innocence of a child.

    In the film, his father describes jews as “like human, but not” and the ironic thing is, he was actually describing himself and the Nazi’s.

    So of course the simplest moral is “treat others as you want to be treated” that much is obvious, but the deeper moral is that when man thinks he’s in control of evil, he’s fooling himself because evil is chaos, and chaos can not be controlled.

  17. I also think another obvious moral is that hate has to be taught, it’s not something someone is naturally born with. The instructor was teaching Bruno to hate Jews, and this is how hate spreads in any part of the world.

  18. I think the moral of the story is the sins of the father revisited the son. Bruno’s father never thought about his children’s safety or feelings when he made his dicision to move to out-with. He didn’t inform them of what the place really was about or watch over them to assure their safety. He was reckless with their lives as he was with the Jews.

  19. I think that the moral of the boy in the striped pyjamas is to treat everybody else that is Human, like a human. Everybody should be treated as if you were treated the same. So the Jewish people in the boy in the striped pyjamas were innocent human beings that were being destroyed because of one person that did not believe that they are what they are. This lead to a lot of dissagreament in the disapline of other German people that wanted to get rid of the Jews too.

  20. I think that the moral of the story is that what goes around comes around. Meaning that what Ralph (Bruno’s Father) ruined family’s but running a Concentration Camp (Auschwitz). And so what he was doing to other families happened to him a he was devastated when it happened to him so now he know’s what the Jewish families felt like.

  21. i think that the moral of the story is that everyone should be accepted for what they are and who they are, regardless of where they come from and what they believe in. I think that the writer shows this well through the eyes of children, and that friendship conquers all, no matter who you are or where you come from.

  22. I think that the moral of the story is that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover because Bruno doesn’t judge Shmuel because he is wearing ‘pyjamas’ all day. Also because everyone including Bruno thinks that Ralph looks great and handsome in his uniform when really he is torturing and killing the jews.

  23. I think the moral of the Boy in the Striped Pyjamas treat others how you want to be treated. The father was so wrapped up and hardened by what he was doing to the Jews that he didn’t think of how he would feel if he was in the same situation. He thought he would be protected from this feeling because he was the commandant and he didn’t spend enough time with his children and so in the end he was totally destroyed when he found out what what had happened to Bruno. I thin John Boyne wants us to think about what you do before you do it. Like what happened in the story the father was destroyed by what happened but if he had chosen a different path it wouldn’t have happened.

  24. I think the moral of the boy in the striped pjyamas is don’t bottle things up and keep things from people. if Brunos mather had told Gretal and Bruno that out with was right beside a death camp, bruno would not of gone under the fence and would not of died. The father never told him what he did, which was not a good idea!

  25. I believe that the Moral of the story is that Everybody should be treated equally, no matter if they have a different religion, skin colour etc. In the book this is shown by How Bruno gets killed even though his Father believes his son a perfect in his eyes. The author shows that he believes that everyone should be treated equally by killing not only the Jew but also the German. I believe this is to show that he didn’t agree with what was happening but instead of saying this outright he uses techniques in this book to show his distaste for Hitler.

  26. The moral of the ‘boy in the striped pyjamas’ is that you should treat people how they want to be treated because other wise it will come back and punish you for what you have done sometime. We saw this when Bruno died and his found out that it was pretty much all his fault.

  27. I believe that the moral of the story is that you should never follow others unless you believe it is the right thing to do , if not stand up against it and hat you believe in.

  28. i think that the moral of the story is that the a group of bad people can brain wash ordinary familes as is shown by the father in the story. however at the end you can see that the father realizes what hes done

  29. I think the moral of the story ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjams’ is that we need to treat everyone, no matter how different they are, the same way we wished to be treated. Some people believe they can treat people cruelly without any consequences, which is wrong. People cant let power over others go to their heads.

  30. To me the moral of ‘The Boy in Striped Pyjamas’ is that although going along with the crowd is the easier thing to do, it’s not always the right thing to do. This stands out to me as we see the results of Elsa’s unwillingness to stand up for herself and what she believes in. Bruno dies because his mother is too much of a coward to stand up to his father and tell him what he is doing is wrong.

    Have the guts to stand up for what you believe in.

  31. I think the moral of the story is what goes around comes around, as Bruno’s father knew it was wrong when he was killing all the innocent Jews, but he still did it. He knew that something bad would happen to him if he kept doing what he did. In the end he paid a price. . . his innocent sons life. He also tore his family apart by moving them to Auschwitz. And he knew that.

  32. I think that the moral of the story “the Boy in the Striped Pyjamas” is that you should treat others how you want to be treated, even if they have a different appearence or nationality to others. I think that there is always a lesson to be taught as people think that it is fair by treating people cruely and that has no consequences. This is wrong as everybody should be treated equal and like evryone else, and nobody should have a particular right that everyone has to follow.

  33. I think the moral of the Boy in the Striped Pyjamas treat others how you want to be treated. The father was so wrapped up and hardened by what he was doing to the Jews that he didn’t think of how he would feel if he was in the same situation. He thought he would be protected from this feeling because he was the commandant and he didn’t spend enough time with his children and so in the end he was totally destroyed when he found out what what had happened to Bruno. I thin John Boyne wants us to think about what you do before you do it. Like what happened in the story the father was destroyed by what happened but if he had chosen a different path it wouldn’t have happened.

  34. the moral of the boy in the striped pyjama’s is that not everybody knew what was going on at Auschwitz or didn’t want to believe what was going on. Or completely naive to it.
    It also says to us that we should never have something like that agin in our world.

  35. I think the moral of the ‘Boy in the Striped Pajamas’ is to not turn your back on things you know are wrong. Bruno’s family knew about what was happening over the fence but none of them ever told Bruno. It was their fault that what happened to Bruno happened. If it wasn’t for Bruno taking part in what happened to the Jews they would have never have come to full terms with what the Jews felt.

  36. I think that the moral of the story “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas” is that everyone should be accepted for who they are and what they are, regardless of where they come from and what they believe in. I think that the writer shows this moral through the eyes of children, and that friendship overcomes all.

  37. i think that the moral of the story the boy in the striped pjyamas is that people are not born evil they are lead to to evil things. although i think that everyone still has good inside them

  38. I think that the moral of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is that even though people do wrong things they can repent for it in the end, this is shown when Ralph realizes that Brunos death is his fault and he feels how the Jews felt when he was hurting them, so he was unable to continue with his job anymore.

  39. I think the moral of the boy in the striped pyjamas is that you should always be true to what you believe in and not let others change you. Elsa should have stood up for herself and taken Bruno and Gretal away long before she was going to.

  40. I think the moral of the story is that no body gains anything from war. By killing all the Jews, Bruno’s father only lost what he loved. In the end, no one achieved anything.

  41. i think the moral of the story is, evil is destruction and when evil loosed control, its hard to tame. stand up in what you believe in, dont ever let people knock you down you are your own person, freindship is one of lifes treasures that overcomes all. some say it was bruno’s parents fault that he died! but think about it would you tell your 10 year old son that there are being killed down the road! they were trying to protect him as long as they could let him have an imagination, yes okay it was wrong to bring a 10 year old to outwith and yes that was a foolish thing to do but when something is gone you can never get it back its gone forever!

  42. I feel there are meny themes in this book. Friendship can conqure any obstical. We all need friendship(Bruno…the mom…Shumel) Friends Will always be there for you. It’s never easy to leave the ones you love.

  43. I think the moral of the story is that friendship has no boundaries. Bruno and Shmuel show a great human characteristic when they dont let anything come between their friendship

  44. The author’s purpose for writing The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is because he wanted to show how the holocaust was viewed by a child of a Nazi soldier. The author, John Boyne, also wrote this book because he wanted the readers of the novel to try and understand what the horrible events of WWII must have been like in the eyes of a very young concentration camp prisoner.

    https://sites.google.com/site/theboyinthestripedpajamasp3/

    • I don’t agree with that moral, Bruno was trying to stick up for whats right. He is the person who shows us that racial discrimination is wrong even though he doesn’t know what is the difference between himself and Shmuel.

  45. This book stresses on the horrid events during WWI through the eyes of an innocent ten year old boy, Bruno who forms great bonding with a little Jewish boy of the same age over the fence. This line conspicuously shows that both boys are from different worlds, yet can form a friendship so strong just by communicating across a barbed towering fence.

  46. i think that the moral is to treat others how you want to be treated and to not let others persuade you you need to trust it what you believe in and not others

  47. I think that the moral of the story is that you should not judge people for what they are, or from what they wear. None of that realy matters, all that matters is who they are on the insde.

  48. i think that the film is trying to make us feel scared for the boy Bruno when acctually we should be feeling scared for all of the inhabitents of the camp that are slightly put out of focus

  49. Although im still unsure I think the message was that friendship is the most important thing-or something honestly I’m not sure but It is definitely something related to friendship. Whatever It was, it certainly isn’t obvious.

  50. I believe the moral of this story is that friendship can be found in the most unusual circumstances. Also, that just because you are born into one way of life doesn’t mean you have to live like that. Bruno had a short life, but he chose a different path than his father did. His father hated jews and helped kill them, Where as Bruno did not.

  51. i think the moral of the story is that you should NOT judge people by their religion and in any other way because at the end of the day we are all human beings and are all equal and should be treated the same way as we would like to be treated! :)

  52. I believe, that the moral of the story is that, it doesn’t matter what nationality, race, religion, you are, or even your appearance, but that it’s what’s inside that counts.

    John Boyne’s protagonist of the novel, is a nine year old boy by the name of Bruno, his innocents leds him to an ill-fated friendship with a jewish boy named Shmuel. Although his friendship with a jew was unnaceptable by his father, he didn’t listen or couldn’t understand why he was kept away from normal people, with the same feelings, and aspirations as him. In the end, he died because of this.

    The thing is that, although Bruno’s father was a Nazi, Bruno didn’t see the wrong in befriending a jew, because of his innocents led him to believe that Shmuel was just like him. Which he was.

  53. Another thing that this book highlights is that even ordinary people ar capable of great evil. Like the father, who tucks his children in every night yet is the monster who runs a camp that is killing people. Even the mother who although does nothing about the genocide is trying to teach her children good manners. I guess the book is trying to say that no matter evil you think a person is, there is always some good in them.

  54. in the last few lines he writes “of course all this happened a long time ago and nothing like that could ever happen again. Not in this day and age.”
    he is using irony, to portray the moral which is that even though we think that the events that happened are in the past and never will happen again, it is still happening all around the globe, discrimination and genocide.

  55. the main moral of the movie is that the Jews rights were violated by the Germans to make them feel more powerful. This was injustice of unfairness and inequality.

  56. when she says ‘when Bruno put on the pyjamas him and shmule almost look the same…’ it’s saying they are exactly the same people, but due to difference in religion they’re treated so differently.

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