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Free Study Guide for The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom

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THE HIDING PLACE SUMMARY

CONFLICT

Protagonist

The protagonist of a story is the main character who traditionally undergoes some sort of change. He or she must usually overcome some opposing force. The protagonist of this story is Corrie ten Boom who tells the true story of her life. She constantly faces adversity when she accepts the job of hiding Jews and other political prisoners from the Nazis. She is often at war with her own doubts and frustrations, but always turns to God for help and comfort.

Antagonist

The antagonist of a story is the force that provides an obstacle for the protagonist. The antagonist does not always have to be a single character or even a character at all. The enemy is usually the Nazis and their occupation of Holland, but it is also Corrie’s doubts about her job in the Resistance and later, her ministry.

Rising Action

This part of the autobiography occurs from the beginning and the celebration of the 100 years the watch shop had been in business through a flashback of Corrie’s life at the Beje through her and Betsie’s experiences in prison to Betsie’s death at Ravensbruck.

Climax

The climax of a plot is the major turning point that allows the protagonist to resolve the conflict. The climax comes when Betsie dies, foreseeing on her deathbed Corrie’s ministry: to tell their story and help people find Jesus.

Falling Action

This part of the story takes place from the time Corrie is released from Ravensbruck until she discovers her true purpose to carry on Betsie’s dream to bring healing and the name of God to people in need.

Outcome

Betsie dies at Ravensbruck, but her visions of the future lead Corrie to find a ministry where she will tell what happened during their imprisonment, and how God and Jesus were always with them at their darkest hours. As a result, Corrie spends nearly the rest of her life setting up homes to help heal people damaged by the war, devoting a former concentration camp to the same purpose, and traveling to tell her story.


SHORT SUMMARY (Synopsis)

Corrie ten Boom’s autobiography began with the 100th anniversary of the founding of the ten Boom watch shop in Haarlem, Holland. The ten Boom family was a highly respected one known for their deep religious faith and good will towards anyone who might need their help. This celebration took place in 1937 within the shadow of World War II and the rise of Nazism. However, the Dutch people believed that just as in World War I, their neutrality would be honored. Unfortunately, they could not know the evil and the horrors that come with it were just around the corner for them.


Corrie described in detail the old, strangely built Dutch house where she was born, because it would become the main setting of The Hiding Place - a secret room they would build to hide Jews and political prisoners fleeing Nazi persecution. The big old house was a beloved part of Corrie’s childhood as she used it as a backdrop to reminisce about how she grew up. She remembered many fond moments: trying to get out of going to school; a father who prized his faith and education above all; a mother who made it a regular habit to visit the poor and ill and bring them help; an older sister who was to always be one her greatest friends; an older brother who was educated and ordained a Protestant minister while also working later for the Resistance Movement; a younger sister whose strict honesty sometimes got her into trouble; three aunts, all different in personality and attitude toward life, but who were great examples to Corrie as she grew up; and people in the community of Haarlem who valued her family and their contribution to their city.

Corrie, her father, and her sister, Betsie, eventually had to face the Nazi invasion of Holland and became a part of the Resistance Movement. They provided a place for people who were fleeing the Nazis to live and a secret room for them to hide, in case the house was ever raided. During this time, Corrie often had doubts about whether her mission was wrong, but she always found her way back to the truth by relying on God. They practiced daily for the raid and continued to pray that it never happened. Unfortunately, that day did arrive as the result of a man who Corrie later learned was named Jan Vogel and was a Dutchman who collaborated with the Germans. The Jews hiding in the secret room were saved, but Corrie, her father, and Betsie were taken into custody. Father died ten days after his arrest and was buried in a pauper’s grave while Corrie and Betsie found themselves imprisoned first in Scheveningen Prison, a Dutch federal prison used by the Nazis. There, Corrie, who was ill when the arrest occurred, was kept in solitary for a month or two. Every time she reached a moment of despair, God seemed to provide something to give her strength. For example, the only company she had other than a “hand” delivering her food tray through a slot in the cell wall each day was a black ant to whom she gave pieces of her bread. He provided an example of strength for her to follow as he struggled to take the bread back to his home through the crack in the floor.

Later, the two women were transported to Vught Prison, where Corrie was finally able to catch up and be with Betsie. Corrie knew that Betsie, who had had a weak heart all her life, needed her now more than ever. Here, with the help of a set of the four Gospels given to Corrie by a nurse in the hospital at Schevenigen, they told the story of God’s love and the promise of Jesus’ Resurrection.

In spite of being together at last, Corrie wished valiantly for release. Instead, they were soon transported in boxcars into eastern Germany and the infamous prison of Ravensbruck. Conditions there were horrifying, and gradually, Betsie became more and more ill. Throughout it all, however, they continued to bring the word of God to any prisoner who wanted to learn. They became the strength these women needed to face whatever the future might bring. Many miracles occurred there: the tiny vitamin bottle Corrie sneaked in to help keep Betsie strong, seemed to never empty, even though they shared its contents with anyone who appeared ill; the guards never tried to come in and confiscate their Scriptures even though it was common practice in the other barracks; on her deathbed, Betsie predicted that they would be released by the first of the year, 1945, and that Corrie would open a huge home with tall windows and a garden for the injured of the war, all of which came true; and when Betsie died, her face miraculously lost its skeletal, lined appearance to look free, young and strong again, just as she looked at the Beje.

Corrie was eventually released and sent back to Holland. It was only later in 1957, when she returned for the first time to Ravensbruck that she learned her release was a clerical error and that all women her age the next week were sent to the gas chambers. The journey home was long and arduous, but eventually Corrie arrived at Willem’s home first and then the Beje later. However, she was restless with whatever work she tried, from repairing and making watches to opening the Beje to the feeble-minded. Eventually, she began to speak to churches and other groups about her and Betsie’s experiences. It was at one of these speaking engagements that she met Mrs. Bierens de Haan, a wealthy woman who promised that if her son came home from Germany, she would open her mansion to fulfill Betsie’ dream. The son came home and Corrie readied the house for the hundreds of people who began filtering there to learn how to forgive those who had so horribly wronged them. She also opened up a former concentration camp for the same purpose.

Later, she took her ministry throughout Europe and the Near East and gained a great reputation for her stories about her time in Nazi prisons. This was how she met John and Elizabeth Sherrill, the husband and wife team who helped to co-write her story, The Hiding Place. Eventually, her age led to several debilitating strokes which robbed her of her power to speak, but she remained a source of inspiration to everyone who came to see her.

She died on her 91st birthday in Orange County, California, where she had been living with friends. Her story is still an inspiration 35 years after it was first published.

 


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