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

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Patty observes as a truckload of the German soldiers descend into her father’s store. The POWs had each earned two dollars and were looking to spend it in the Bergen’s store. Patty notices Reiker, who is the only POW who can speak English; he was able to translate between the soldiers and Harry. Patty sees Reiker admiring the merchandise at the stationary counter, and decides to approach him to inquire if he needs help. The two converse about the “pocket pencil sharpener” (43) that he wants to buy, and also where he learned to speak English. Their conversation is interrupted by the Army men instructing the POW’s to return to the truck. Before Anton leaves, he purchases a large and gaudy pin. Patty talks with God and asks him if he may keep Anton safe and if they may, one day, become friends.


Anton is introduced, in this chapter, and it seems inevitable that he and Patty will be reacquainted. Patty is in awe of Anton’s ability to speak English and gains the courage to talk with him. This is the first time where Patty seems concerned about her looks. While she is debating whether or not to talk to Anton she states, “I wanted to, but I couldn’t. I didn’t even have a comb. Why, in God’s name, didn’t I carry a purse with a fresh handkerchief and a comb like Edna Louise?” (42). Patty then runs her fingers through her hair and pats it into place. We later learn that Edna Louise is a prim and proper, elegant girl with who Patty is acquainted. Since Patty is suddenly nervous about her looks, which according to her mother she never is, we know that she likes Anton.

While talking with Anton, Patty learns that his mother was born in Manchester, England, and his father was educated in London. They have since moved to Germany where his father is a professor. Before the war, Anton was a private in the German Army, a cotton picker and a medical student.



After waiting on Anton, Patty takes the bag of change, from the bank, back to her mother. Pearl criticizes Patty, which makes her so upset that she lies about a conversation that she had with Mrs. Jackson. Patty keeps thinking of Anton and is anxious to tell someone about him: Sister Parker. Patty decided to bring up the topic of the war instead of immediately telling Sister Parker of her soldier of interest. When Patty tells Sister Parker about Anton she suddenly feels betrayed by herself and her desire to always tell people things. She then lies about the conversation she had with Anton.

Patty decides to visit Edna Louise Jackson and tell her that she likes Anton. Edna Louise Jackson has a reputation of being “boy crazy”
(53); Patty feels that Edna Louise will understand her story. Patty tells Edna Louise that the boy she likes is a German soldier; Edna Louise’s unfavorable reaction takes Patty by surprise and she leaves.


In this chapter we see more of Patty’s insecurities surface: she embellishes stories and even lies to capture the attention of others. When Patty’s mother questions her as to what she has to talk about with Mrs. Jackson, she lies and tells her mother that Mrs. Jackson commented on her wonderful manners. Patty is jealous of her mother’s beauty and her “prize saleslady” (49) attitude. She also feels neglected, due to her mother’s lack of attention; it becomes apparent, in this chapter that Patty lies to try and gain attention from others.

Patty is anxious to tell someone about Anton; she chooses Sister Parker. While Patty was talking with Sister Parker, she showed signs of boredom and disinterest; this causes Patty to lie about her conversation with Anton. She told Sister Parker that Anton hated Hitler because he had killed his family and that he prayed for the Americans to win the war.

On her way home, Patty decides to stop at Edna Louise’s house to talk with her. Patty’s insecurities and longing desire for friends also becomes apparent when she says:

“I tried to tell myself that Edna Louise would be glad to see me, especially if she didn’t have any other visitors. After all, any company is better than no company, isn’t it” (53)?

Through Patty’s description of Edna Louise, we learn that she is elegant, the daughter of a rich man, and very intelligent.

When Patty tells Edna Louise that Anton is a German soldier, she reacts with dramatic disapproval; she states that, “That’s almost as bad as going out with a nigger” (55)! Edna Louise’s response exemplifies the town’s racism toward Germans and African Americans.

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