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In the movie Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (2008), the young protagonist Bruno befriends a Jewish prisoner, Shmuel, at a concentration camp near his home. At the end of the movie, Bruno sneaks away from home, breaks in to the camp in order to help Shmuel find his father, and subsequently is taken to a gas chamber to be executed, as he is mistaken for an actual prisoner.

His parents quickly discover he is missing, track him to the camp, and Bruno's father sees an empty barracks, indicating a gassing has taken place. However, they spend very little time searching the camp, and his mother breaks down in tears outside the fence without even seeing the empty barracks.

Why do they assume he has been killed so quickly, without a more extensive search of the area? Is this a case of the viewer knowing Bruno has been killed and they will find evidence eventually?

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2 Answers 2

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Since the Father is the commander of the camp, he knows how thorough his orders are carried out, and the lack of mercy his subordinates use. Since the son has never met the subordinate guards, they don't know him by sight. When the barracks are emptied, they are emptied with extreme prejudice. As soon as the Father and mother see the empty barracks, their first thought is obviously that there is no hope in finding their son alive.

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Just going from your description (having never seen the movie), you have to think of it this way: they have to assume that he's not coming back out of the camp alive one way or another. He's a small boy who has unknowingly put himself in an incredibly dangerous position. How could they even begin to locate him in such a camp? Would the guards really conduct a search on their behalf? How thorough could it be and wouldn't a million other children be pushed forward as candidates for the missing child (making the whole process drag out farther and farther)?

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I forgot to mention an important detail - Bruno's father is a high-ranking SS officer and commands the camp in question. There is no doubt he could have organized a full search of the camp - which, in the film, is not depicted as being very large. –  colti Jul 5 '13 at 19:07

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