The BBFC Guidelines allows for difficult themes, such as the atrocities of war, to be explored in works classified at 12A. The tone and treatment of the subject, however, is critical to presenting such themes at this category. For example, Hotel Rwanda dealt with the horror of the Rwandan genocide and its impact on a family; the recent film adaptation of The Kite Runner explored the friendship of two boys during the Russian invasion of Afghanistan and the imposition of Taliban rule. Both films were classified at 12A for the discreet and sensitive handling of such troubling subjects.
I think that this becomes one of the most essential questions in the novel. The fact is that "the boy in the striped pajamas" can be seen as both Bruno and Shmuel. When Bruno first notices people like Shmuel, he makes the claim that they are wearing "pajamas." Yet, in order for Bruno to live up to the commitment of friendship with Shmuel, it becomes evident that he must don his own "pajamas" in order to go to the other side of the fence. It is at this point where both of them represent "the boy in the striped pajamas." It does not matter than one is German and the other Jewish. It does not matter that one is a direct target of the Nazi practices, and the other is the son of one who is in the position of power of said practices. It does not matter that they are different. At the moment when Bruno crosses over the fence, they are "the boy in the striped pajamas." They are the same. It might be this point that Boyne is making. Underneath the cosmetic exterior, there is a degree of sameness that should enable people being brought together and not keeping them apart.