Free Study Guide for Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene|
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CHAPTER SUMMARIES AND NOTES
One fall afternoon Patty’s father comes home, bringing
members of the FBI. Mr. Pierce, who had questioned Patty earlier in the story,
begins to question her again, about her encounter with the old, hungry man around
who her story is based. Patty retells her story. Mr. Pierces shows Patty a picture
of Anton and asks if this is the man to who she had given the food. Patty reports
that the picture does not, at all, resemble the man.
Then Mr. Pierce shows
Patty the shirt that she had given her father for Father’s Day, which she had
given to Anton. The shirt had a tiny tear surrounded by bloodstains. Upon seeing
this, Patty lost her composure and asked Mr. Pierce if he had hurt Anton. Patty
told Mr. Pierce Anton’s full name; he then reported that Anton had been shot,
and killed, that morning while trying to escape arrest in New York.
Patty is very lonely now that Anton is gone. She realizes that when
she turns eighteen she will be able to attend college anywhere she wants. This
idea excites her and gives her something to look forward to: education and moving
away from home. She suddenly feels like she has a little hope in her life.
Patty also looks forward to turning eighteen because she thinks that she will
be grown up, with nice curves and long hair. Patty is becoming more concerned
about her appearance, thinking that she will be able to see Anton when she is
eighteen (in six years). She even prays to God that she will have long, beautiful
hair and a bosom of her own for Anton to love.
When the FBI appears at
Patty’s house she kisses her ring for good luck. She also compares it to being
her “Bible” (175). This ring serves as a religious symbol to Patty. She
believes in the ring; she believes that it will make her a better person and give
her confidence and value. She claims it carries the same message as the Bible,
“love thy neighbor” (175).
Patty’s father says an interesting statement
in this chapter. When he brought the FBI to his house, he scolded Patty and told
her to tell the FBI everything she knows. Mr. Pierce told her father to calm down
and that Patty was merely a kid. Upon hearing this, Mr. Bergen’s face turned purple
with anger and he said to Mr. Pierce, “...that’s no little kid, never has been,
‘cause when she was born her brain was bigger than yours is now” (177). Here
it is evident that Patty’s father is very proud of her. It appears that he takes
out his frustrations on her because he feels that she is so intelligent and he
cannot give her what she wants. Although Mr. Bergen is a terrible and belligerent
father to Patty, we now see that he is proud of her intelligence and respects
The FBI has to take Patty away
for a trial because she was housing a prisoner of war. Patty’s father says that
he wants her taken to Memphis because he knows a lawyer there who he wants to
handle the case.
Patty and her father have a fight and, as usual her father
yells violently at her. Ruth becomes upset that Patty is getting scolded and defends
her. Mr. Bergen becomes furious at Ruth’s interjections and fires her.
Patty tells her father that Anton treated her better
than he does; this was the root of the fight between the two. Mr. Bergen is furious
that Patty compared him to a Nazi. The irony of this situation is that Anton,
the actual Nazi, is a better person than Mr. Bergen. This coincides with one of
the themes of this story: Patty sees good, in good people; Ruth and Anton were
her closest friends. During this time period, it would have been unheard of for
a Caucasian person, such as Patty, to befriend a German and an African American.
Patty’s father represents the racism of society during this time also.
He does not treat Ruth like a human being and he refuses to understand that a
Nazi could be a good person.
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