Free Study Guide for The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom|
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THE HIDING PLACE SYNOPSIS / PLOT SUMMARY
The radio also changed something else in their lives: Father discovered that the chiming of Big Ben in London on the BBC exactly coincided with their clocks and so eventually, he traveled less and less to the Naval Observatory each week to get the exact time. He even decided he could set the astronomical clock by Big Ben. The ten Boom family continued to live their lives within these new patterns while to the east, their neighbor - Germany - was gearing up for war. They would hear Hitler screaming on the radio and hurry to turn it off, believing that Germany would not put up with that man for long. But they were wrong.
Soon, a young man named Otto came to apprentice under Father. He was German and proudly proclaimed he was a member of the Hitler Youth. He was very critical of the Dutch and constantly reminded them that the world would see what Germany could do. He even watched Father read from the Old Testament and declared it “a Jewish book of lies.” Later, the landlady who ran the rooming house where Otto lived came to Father and the other ten Booms and showed them a knife with a curving ten inch blade she found in his room. Even with all these things, father tried to put a good interpretation on the boy’s behavior, claiming that he had just been taught wrong and that they should pray for him. However, Father eventually did fire Otto-the first apprentice he had ever fired in sixty years in business - because of the way he treated Christoffels. Otto was very brusque with the old man and showed him no courtesy or respect. Willem, who understood the new German mentality better than the rest of the family, insisted that Otto’s behavior towards Christoffels was deliberate, because the Germans no longer valued the old people of their country.
When Father questioned Willem’s interpretation, pointing out that Otto was
unusually courteous to him, Willem replied that this behavior was the
sign of respect the Germans felt for authority. Father was the boss and
so was treated deferentially. The old and the weak in the new German State
were intended to be eliminated. The ten Booms later learned that Otto
was even more insidious towards Christoffels outside their house, physically
attacking him in small ways to and from work. The old man was too proud
to tell the ten Booms he was under attack until finally one morning in
February, 1939, he stumbled through their door with a bleeding cheek and
a torn coat. Even then, Christoffels said nothing, but was saved when
a group of witnesses to the attack came to the shop and told the ten Booms
that Otto had deliberately shoved Christoffels into the wall of a building
and ground his face against the bricks. After Father fired Otto, he tried
to explain to him why such behavior was wrong. However, Otto never said
a word, only turning around at the door as he left, giving the family
a look of the most utter contempt Corrie had ever seen.
This chapter is a study in contrasts. Corrie shows the reader the many small miracles and good events in her life from 1918 until 1939, contrasting with events that were not so good. We see the unfortunate stroke that leaves her mother disabled, but at the same time, we see how God now gives her the time to feel and show even more love for her family and friends. She even somehow sings an entire hymn at Nollie’s wedding even though she hasn’t been able to speak more than a few words since the stroke. Even her death was a study in contrasts - a moment of pain and perhaps fear was a calm slipping into sleep and not waking up. She even had a smile on her face.
Furthermore, Nollie meets Flip and falls in love. It might have been a very distressing moment for Corrie to watch her sister plan her wedding, but instead, Corrie realizes that Karel will always be the only man for her, and now she can give her love to God instead.
Another contrast can be seen in the switch in household jobs that comes about between Corrie and Betsie. Betsie comes down with a bad cold, and Corrie must take her place in the shop. In the time she’s sick, they both come to realize that Betsie prefers to be in the house, and Corrie loves to be in the shop. So what had begun on a bad note - Betsie’s cold on top of her weak health - ends in a much more comfortable way to live.
Later, Father becomes very ill with hepatitis and nearly dies. But out of that fearful moment came the radio, given by the people of Haarlem who were grateful he had survived. The radio brings them music and the discovery that Peter is a musical prodigy. It brings them news of the outside world, and it means that Father will no longer have to take the weekly trip to the Naval Observatory for the correct time, because the chiming of Big Ben is exact.
Unfortunately, the chapter ends on the bad side of these contrasts with the case of Otto who is the ultimate example to the ten Booms of the horror that is emerging from Germany. The utter contempt with which he leaves them foreshadows the coming invasion of their country and the fear they will live under for the next several years. It is also significant that, in spite of the fact that Corrie can show the good in all the unfortunate things that happened to her family, there is no good to alleviate the bad effect Otto has on the watch shop.
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Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on The Hiding Place".
. 09 May 2017