The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

How is obedience constructive and how can it be destructive? Give examples from the story of each.

Obedience is important in the story, because for Bruno, it is both what shelters him and keeps him innocent from the realities of war, because he is told not to look at the camp and to stay away and not ask about Father’s work, but it is also the very thing that helps him to find Shmuel and destroys some of his innocence. Because he was disobedient and begins to explore the fence and finds Shmuel, he is slowly picking up and learning things that his parents would be horrified about. So in some ways, obedience is constructive because it stops Bruno from doing wrong, but in other ways it is destructive because he is doing everything he is told to do and making no decisions for himself, which is how he is so influenced by his father and believes everything that he says to Bruno as ‘true’. The effects of this are clear through Gretel’s characters, because she is influenced by the Nazi way, and adopts some of their prejudices and beliefs. Bruno on the other hand is influenced as we can tell by his conversations with Shmuel, but is still young enough to listen to what Shmuel tells him, and make some realisations of his own.

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