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Free Study Guide for The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom

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FREE ONLINE STUDY GUIDE FOR THE HIDING PLACE

CHAPTER TWO - Full Table

Summary

This chapter is one in which Corrie reflects on events of her childhood. It begins with her memories of her first day of school and how she didn’t want to go. The Beje was full at that time with Father and Mother and the four children as well as Mother’s three sisters, Tante Jans, Tante Bep, and Tante Anna. Tante Jans took the two best rooms in the front of the house for herself where she wrote the Christian tracts for which she was known all over Holland. She had given Betsie a new hat for school, and Betsie found it to be too old-fashioned for her taste, wanting to wear a lovely little fur one instead. However, Betsie would not lie and hide the little hat under the big bonnet until she had left the house. This honesty in her youth will prepare us for how she deals with life in a Nazi prison. As for Corrie’s decision not to go to school, she remembered how her father put an almost religious importance on education. He had been forced to leave school at an early age to go to work, and so he had taught himself history, theology, and literature in five languages. So Corrie knew that getting him to accept her decision would be difficult.


They all sat down to breakfast where Father read from the Scriptures the passage, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path . . . Thou art my hiding place and my shield; I hope in thy word . . .” After the Scriptures, the other children grabbed their coats and hats and raced out the door for school, but Corrie stayed behind. Her mother realized she was still there and told her she was a big girl now and must go to school, too. Corrie announced she was not going, and when the Aunts began to comment on her defiance, Father stood up and announced that she would be accompanied to school by him. She tried to hold on to the railing on the front steps, but Father gently unwound her fingers and lead her away as she howled and struggled.

Another memory came to Corrie’s mind, one in which she had wanted to be with Father. He took the train every Monday to Amsterdam to get the exact time at the Naval Observatory. She loved to go with him on these trips. While they were there, Father would visit the shops of Jewish wholesalers for parts and watches. He loved to go there, because one wholesaler in particular enjoyed his company as they argued and discussed the truth of religion as each saw it. It was never a time of rancor or bitterness, but always a lively discussion filled with respect for each other. The way to Amsterdam was always occupied with looking out the wind and admiring the view, but on the way home, it was a time when Corrie and her father talked about many things, even sex. One day, she asked him what it was, and since they were getting off the train at the time, Father asked her to carry his traveling case which was very heavy. When she complained that she couldn’t lift it, he replied that he would be a poor father if he asked her to carry such a load. In the same way, he said that he would not burden her with the knowledge of sex at such a young age. When she became old and stronger, then she could carry that knowledge just as she would be able to carry the suitcase. She was content with his answer, because she felt safe in his keeping.

Corrie also remembered how the Beje was filled with music every night except those nights when they stood in the alley beside their home and listened to music from the concert hall. They also went to concerts in the cathedral, even though they weren’t Catholic. The cathedral was very cold, and she loved to sit with her feet on the foot warmers and listen to the organist play Bach.

Another memory she recalled involved the visits her mother made to the poor. One night, she accompanied her to a house where a baby had died. She thought to herself as she recalled this moment that it was a strange society where the idea of sex must be hidden, but that death was open to any age to observe. It was her first experience with death and she even touched the little body in the homemade crib and felt how very cold it was. She remembered how it affected her to suddenly realize that death could happen to anyone, even a little baby. When Father came to tuck her in that night, Corrie sobbed that he couldn’t die, because she needed him. Father told her that he never gave her the ticket until they boarded the train, and in the same way, God always waited to give us what we needed at just the right time. So He would give her the strength she needed just at the time when any one of them had to die.

Notes

This chapter is full of reminiscences that Corrie remembers as the ways she learned how to cope with the bad experiences life brings us all. She learned to be honest from Betsie; she learned she had to go to school from Father; she learned that sex was knowledge that one needs only to know when one is older; she learned to care for the poor and downtrodden from her mother; and she learned that death, and how to have the strength to bear it, comes in God’s time and He will provide what she needs. Knowing all these valuable lessons would help Corrie later bear with the tragedies that war and Nazi Germany brought to her, her loved ones, and her country.

 


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