Summer of My German Soldier
The Construction of the Characters in Summer of My German Soldier
Summer of my German Soldier
Summer of my German Soldier takes place in Jenkinsville, Arkansas during World War II. The story is told in first person point of view. The mood for the story is depressing. The main character is Patty Bergen. She is an intelligent, questioning twelve-year-old girl. Patty is always teased about being so skinny. Her mother criticizes her brown hair and boyish looks. Patty enjoys attention and loves to talk. Patty often lies just to be noticed. Patty’s father, Harry Bergen, is a rough man who doesn’t have a good sense of humor. He beats Patty and verbally abuses her. However, Mr. Bergen is respected by many of the townspeople.
Ruth Hughs is Patty’s black nanny. Ruth cares about Patty and is kind to everyone. Ruth is the Bergen’s cook, cleaner and baby-sitter. She is very religious and one of Patty’s few friends. Charlene Madlee is a journalist that becomes great friends with Patty. Charlene teaches Patty all the basic journalism skills and also supports Patty when no one else will. Anton Reiker was a prisoner of war. After he escapes the POW camp he hides in the room above Patty’s garage. Patty feeds and clothes Anton. Anton is kind and generous to others, but more than anything he wants to protect Patty. He is one of Patty’s only supporters. Pearl Bergen is Patty’s mom. She is nervous and quick to judge people, but especially Patty. She is rude and does not protect Patty from her father when he decides to beat her. FBI agent Pierce is the man who comes to question Patty before and after the death of Anton. He is a hard man and is rude to Patty during the interrogation.
There are many conflicts in the novel. One of the main conflicts is between Patty and her father; (and Patty vs. her society). They are constantly fighting. When her father gets really mad he decides to beat her. He is constantly criticizing her and telling her she is worthless. Patty’s society is not very caring either. The townspeople are not nice to Patty. Patty and her mother are always arguing about what to wear and what is proper of Patty. Patty does not enjoy dressing up and showering often like her sister does. Her mother is very fussy about it. Patty has an internal conflict with herself and her love for Anton, she is not sure if he loves her the way she loves him.
The turning point of Summer of My German Soldier begins when Patty’s father and FBI agent Pierce came to question Patty about Anton’s shirt. The FBI agent begins by asking Patty about Anton. He then pulls out a shirt with Patty’s father’s initials on it. Patty says that she has not seen the shirt before. She looks over the shirt noticing a hole with bloodstains around it. Agent Pierce informs Patty that Anton was killed. ” You killed him!” Patty screams. She jumps up and claws his face causing him to bleed.
The falling action begins when Patty is sent to Memphis to live with her grandparents while she is awaiting her trial. The falling action ends as Patty is tried. The climax is the ending of the trial. Patty is sentenced to attend a girl’s reformatory in Bolton, Arkansas. Mr. Grimes, Patty’s escort for the trip picked her up in Memphis, and they begin their journey to Bolton. The ending is when Ruth comes to visit Patty in the reformatory. Ruth leaves Patty with a word of hope, saying, ” You got love to give Honeybabe, ain’t nothing better’n that” The theme to Summer of My German Soldier is “….everyone has the right to be loved.” Patty is denied that right.
People can take away quite a few good things from this story. Through this book people can see how much it means to love. Summer of My German Soldier demonstrates many significant lessons. Most importantly it shows the importance of love. Because many times people are not open minded enough, they often miss some of the greater things in life. One scene that is member able from this book is when Anton, the German soldier, risks being captured, discovered, and possibly killed. As Patty’s father is beating her, Anton runs out of his hiding place, and he would have saved Patty if she had not shouted, “NO!” Patty realizes that this man would risk his life to save her. I highly recommend this book.
Comparative Research of The Scene Differences in the book and screen adaptation of the Summer of My German Soldier
The novel, Summer of My German Soldier, written by Bette Greene is about a young Jewish girl, Patty, who befriends a Nazi soldier. She confides in him because of the lack of parental love in her life. The Nazi soldier shows Patty that she is a person of value and is important in the world. This is something that her parents have never told her. Michael Tuchner, director of the cinematic version of, Summer of My German Soldier, does a fair job of portraying the action in the novel, however some key scenes are not shown thus taking away important facts that the viewer would see.
There are many scenes in the movie that are not in the book. There are a few key additions, one of which is, Anton asking Patty for accessories. The accessories are a toothbrush, toothpaste, razor, comb, etc. When he is asking for these things he seems really demanding. In the book he does not appear to be this way. Another addition is, towards the end of the movie, Patty’s father comes into her room and tells her that she is a bad person and is dead to him. He also tells her that she has always hated him, and in a way this compares to the scene in the book where he goes into the garage and yells “nobody loves me, nobody loves me!”. The scene in which Ruth walks through the town with Patty is another key addition. It shows that she is confident in herself and that she is not afraid of the prejudice of the white people. This scene closely compares to the scene in the book where Ruth orders the white guards in the juvenile detention center to fetch Patty’s Christmas bag.
There are many scenes in the book that do not take place in the movie. The most apparent deletion is of the scenes dealing with the grandparents. In the movie Patty’s grandparents are never mentioned; in the book they play a major role in her life. In the beginning of the book, before Patty meets Anton, her grandparents are all she has. Unlike her parents, they treat her like a person. Also at the end of the book they keep her before she has to go to the juvenile detention center. The movie does not show any of that. Another deletion that occurs is Patty’s punishment for housing the Nazi. In the book she is sent to the juvenile detention center as a punishment. In the movie all that is said is that she will be getting a lawyer to help fight for her. Many of the interactions between Patty and her father are not shown in the movie. In the book Mr. Bergen beats Patty numerous times; in the movie Mr. Bergen only beats her once. Instead of beating her, he only yells violently at her. This is probably done to keep the rating of the movie minimal. Also, when Patty goes out to see Anton during the night, in the book her father catches her in the kitchen; in the movie she sneaks out via the window and is not caught.
A few scenes had the same outcome between the movie and book, but the way in which they were done is different. One major example of this is the scenes that involve Anton’s leaving. In the book, it is at night and it is long and dramatic. They also kiss right before he runs into the night. In the movie, it is during the day and very abrupt. The FBI comes to the Bergen’s house to search for the Nazi. Anton is forced to leave because he does not want to be found. They do not kiss in the movie, but Anton does give Patty a kiss on the forehead before he leaves. Another example of the changes which take place are the book’s and movie’s version of the stone throwing episode. In the book Patty goes out to look for the people whose window she broke to pay them back with Ruth’s money. She gets to her father’s store and sees that the car is there. Her dad gets to her before she can get to them and he beats her without even listening to what she has to say. In the movie Patty gets the money from Ruth and starts to leave. She does not even get out of the house before her dad walks in and starts to yell at her. She tries to tell him that she is going to pay them for the window but he just covers her mouth and yells.
During the movie many things take place in different times for which they took place in the book. In the movie Anton escapes during the first part; in the book Anton doesn’t escape until more than halfway through. Also in the book, the preachers’ wife complains to Ms. Bergen about how Ruth got all of the hamburger before she could. She tells Ms. Bergen to fire Ruth, but Ms. Bergen refuses to. This scene takes place in the first couple of scenes of the book. In the movie that episode does not happen until almost the end of the movie. This may be like this to foretell what is to happen to Ruth in the future.
Cinematic techniques were used wisely in the movie. The costuming is very good. Freddy could definitely be seen as a poor boy, Ruth definitely looked like a house worker, Sharon had the image of a little prissy girl, and Patty was definitely given the image a girl who is treated like trash by her parents. The setting in the movie does not at all differ from the book. The conflict in the movie is also the same as the books.
In conclusion, the movie and the book have the same intentions only some scenes are either added, detracted, changed, or rearranged. I would recommend this movie to the study of the novel only the reader needs to keep in mind that there are differences between the two things. They present the same idea but some things are just done differently.
Summer of My German Soldier and the Depiction of Unlikely and Unconventional Friendship
Friendship of the Oddest Kind
Friendship is more than just a social thing that people do it is a part of who God made us and commanded us to be; 1 John 4:7 says “Beloved, let us love one another”. Even Emily Dickenson, known for being a recluse, had a few close friends she would contact through letters. However, very few people would ever think of a young Jewish girl befriending a German and an African American maid, especially in the 1940’s during World War 2. The Germans were known during this time to support anti-Semitism and intimate interactions between Jews and those of the Reich were forbidden; “Marriages between Jews and subjects of German or kindred blood are forbidden…Extramarital intercourse forbidden between Jews and subjects of German or kindred blood”. As far as a friendship between a white and a black person in America during the 1940’s goes, there were no laws against it, but there were people who would frown upon it. But that is exactly what happened in Bette Greene’s Summer of My German Soldier. Young Patricia (Patty) Bergen’s one and only friend seemed to be her house maid Ruth, a middle aged African American woman who cared for Patty and her little sister, Sharon during the day. Until, one summer when she met a German prisoner of war, Anton Reiker, when he, along with other prisoners of war and some guards come into her parents’ store one day to purchase hats for shade from the Arkansas sun. They become fast friends when Patty assists him in purchasing some stationary and a small broach before Anton, along with the other prisoners are escorted out (Greene 42). A German “Nazi”, a Jewish girl and a house maid becoming friends in the middle of a war between the Third Reich and an America that has been segregated by the color of one’s skin since the Civil War ended. Friendship can be seen throughout Summer of My German Soldier, but the best picture of it comes in chapters eleven and twelve where Patty is able to bring her two best friends together.
Anton was now hiding out above Patty’s garage where their friendship grew so much that they began caring for each other as more than friends. Anton even tried to save Patty from her father’s beating; “As the belt whipped backward, I saw Anton with raised fists racing toward my father’s unsuspecting back,”(124). This is where Anton and Patty’s friendship takes a turn for being more than friends. Anton was willing to risk his own freedom for Patty’s safety until Patty showed how much she cared for him and discouraged him from saving her; “Nooo! … Go away! Go away!” (124). She was more concerned about Anton getting caught than being saved from yet another reasonless beating from her father’s belt. Ruth, unlike Patty’s parents, saw Anton run out to try to save Patty and confronted her about it the next day. “That man came a-rushing out from the safety of his hiding ‘cause he couldn’t stand your pain… That man listens to the love of his heart,” (130). Ruth and Anton have something in common; Patty is an important person to both of them. To Ruth, Patty is a young girl who is often criticized by her mother because of the way she looks and beaten by her father because she made him the slightest bit angry. Anton, however, sees Patty as someone he loves and cares for as seen by his attempt at saving her from her father and, later in the story, a kiss as he says goodbye for the last time Bette Greene does not come right out and tell the reader a friendship is beginning to brew, but the signs are there. Anton offers for Ruth to sit with them at the breakfast table: “Anton rose, pulling out a third chair. ‘Come join us.’” (138). Anton’s small, but meaningful, gesture towards Ruth shows that he does not see a difference between himself and her, rather they are both two human beings and equal in that way. Later Ruth takes Anton’s invitation and they begin talking and “Soon Ruth and Anton found a second point of agreement – that a good cook needs and appreciative eater or two,” (139). Here is a thought from Patty from the standpoint of the narrator as she observes the interactions between her friend Ruth and her friend Anton. This thought builds on the fact that Ruth and Anton are getting along even more so. Anton adds a more special layer on to the cake of this new, very different, friendship by asking Ruth to call him by his first name saying to her: “Call me Anton,” (141). Once again this small gesture by Anton means that he wants to be more personal with Ruth by asking her to call him by his first name rather than call him Mr. Reiker. Seeing as Ruth and Anton are not related by blood or genetics, Anton considers Ruth a friend and Ruth complies with his request by later calling him Anton. The three continue talking when Anton says that he must go so as to not cause any trouble to come to Ruth and more importantly Patty. Here, Ruth puts the icing on the cake by offering something to Anton that most escaped prisoners would not receive; “I’ll pack you up some food to take with you…And I have a couple dollars and some change you can have,” (144). Ruth truly sees how much Anton needs help and how much he means to Patty, so she offers him her own money when she has bills of her own to pay, food to buy and a son that is over in Europe fighting on the front lines, she does not have the money to spare to give to this run away German prisoner of war, but for some reason she offers him money. Why? She sees Anton as a friend that she wants to be able to help out in any way she can without getting in trouble with the law for aiding an escaped convict.
Ruth did not have to accept Anton into the house, nor did she have to cook him a hot meal. She especially did not have to give him some of her money for his continued escape. On the same note, Anton did not have to offer Ruth a seat at the breakfast table, nor did he even have to talk to her about the war and philosophy and ethics. In each case, one person accepted the other, not based on the color of their skin or their nationality, but based on the fact that they each thought the other person was a good person and one that was worth talking to and accepting. Patty acted as the middle ground between Anton and Ruth; she brought her two best, friends together not knowing how they would act towards each other.. Ruth and Anton did not develop this friendship for their own health, they both did it for Patty’s sake. They saw that both of them was important to Patty for different reasons and they wanted to make sure she was happy in the end. That is the big picture of friendship in this chapter of Summer of My German Soldier; two people came together at a breakfast table and developed a friendship for the benefit of another. Bette Greene did not spell out this overall big picture for the reader. She strategically placed it within the genesis of a new friendship between an African American house maid and an escaped German prisoner of war who both care for a young American girl so as to make the reader really have to read her book to understand it to the fullest.