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Free Study Guide for Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene

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It is a Sunday morning and the family is headed to Memphis to visit Patty’s grandparents. Patty notes that she does like her grandparents very much; her father does not. During the car ride, Patty’s parents continue to ignore her and find much pleasure in their other daughter, Sharon. They treat Patty as if she was an annoying disturbance.

Patty and her grandmother make plans to shop and have lunch the next week. Her grandmother promises that she will buy Patty clothes and anything she wants. Since Patty is not interested in buying clothes she asks her grandmother if she could buy a book instead. Patty’s grandmother gives her a ten-dollar bill with which to buy books. She promises Patty that when she spends that money, she will give her more money to purchase more books.

The rest of the family arrives and they all sit down for dinner. Patty’s mother becomes upset with her father because he is sending her brothers and their wives to New York for business. She reacts childishly because he is not sending her as well. Pearl’s mother snaps at her by saying that she never appreciates anything once she has it.

Patty and her family return home later that evening; Patty feels reassured about the ten-dollar bill in her pocket from her grandmother.


In this chapter Patty describes how her father has malice towards his in-laws: When he married Pearl, her father did not give him a job in his real estate business.

We can also see, in this chapter, how Patty’s parents ignore her and favor Sharon. It is emphasized while the family is driving to Patty’s grandparent’s house. Patty tries to make conversation with her parents and they shun her off as if she is a disturbance. However, when Sharon plays childish games with them, they laugh and enjoy her.

It is important to notice the development of Pearl’s superficial and immature character in this chapter; She only wants to talk of clothes and shopping. She also gets childishly upset when she finds out that her father is sending her brothers and their wives away to New York on a business trip.

Along with Ruth, Patty’s grandmother is developed as one of her allies as well. Patty’s grandmother insists on giving her money to buy books because she knows that Pearl will not give Patty the time of day. It can also be noted that Patty’s grandmother knows how superficial and childish Pearl is. Patty described how her grandmother fills her glass with more and more wine as she becomes more of an adult; when they sat down to dinner, Patty noticed that she had a full glass of wine and her mother did not. This implies that Patty’s grandmother thinks Pearl is still very childish and immature despite her age.

Patty faces more internal conflict regarding her mother’s attitude toward her. She states,

“ had to be a big lie what they say about beauty being only skin deep. For if it weren’t really there why would it show? The problem must be me” (28).

Patty is saying that she cannot understand why her mother is so beautiful on the outside but so ugly on the inside. She thinks that, below the surface, her mother is a lovely person; but it is Patty, herself, that is the problem. Patty is conflicted because she does not like clothes and shopping like her mother does; since her mother is so closed-minded she has made Patty at fault that for having a different personality and different interests from her. Pearl is not praising Patty for being her own person. Instead she chooses to ignore her.

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