Summer of My German Soldier


Main characters

  • Patricia Anne Bergen: Patricia is a 12-year-old Jewish girl living in Jenkinsville, Arkansas near the end of World War II. Patty is very intelligent and intellectually curious, particularly about words. On the other hand, she can also be naive and unworldly. At the beginning of the novel, Patty has low self-esteem brought on by her mother's criticism of her appearance and her father's outright abuse. During the novel and as Patty becomes friends with Anton, she begins to gain the self-esteem and confidence she is lacking.
  • Fredrick Anton Reiker: Anton, a German foot soldier comes from Northeastern Germany, but is half English (his mother is from Manchester). His English-educated father is a professor of history who gets into trouble for making fun of Hitler in lectures. Anton has no sympathy either with the Nazi party or its ideology. Later on in the novel, he teaches Patty that she is a person of value.
  • Ruth Hughes: The Bergen's black maid who takes care of Patty and Patty's sister, Sharon. As one of the individuals who is closest to Patty, she is very loving and is extremely influential in Patty's life. She is the only individual who knows that Patty is hiding Anton above their garage, and keeps the secret well.

Very Minor characters

  • Harry Bergen: Patty's abusive father who runs a local non-profit department store. He is known for flirting with other women in town and is very conscious of money. Harry seems to loathe his elder daughter and tends to favor his younger daughter, Sharon.
  • Pearl Bergen: Pearl is Patty's mother. Pearl is a vain woman who negatively comments on Patty's looks and behavior, both directly to her daughter and to others. As the story is being told through Patty's eyes, she also tends to favor her younger daughter, Sharon.
  • Sharon Bergen: Patty's younger sister. Sharon is favored by her parents and most people in Jenkinsville. Patty is jealous of the adoration and encouragement her sister receives from their parents, but is still very fond of her sister.
  • Freddy Dowd: Patty's only school friend. Patty's father doesn't approve of their friendship, possibly because he is poor. Twice in the book, Harry Bergen beats Patty with his belt when he catches her with Freddy. Freddy is slow and naive, and does not understand Patty's reluctance to be friends with him, which she feels unable to explain truthfully.
  • Edna Louise Jackson: A wealthy friend of Patty's. Along with most of the children Patty is friends with, Edna goes away to Baptist camp for most of the summer. Patty wants to be able to go, too, but her mother will not permit it because they are Jewish. It is revealed at one point that Edna's grandfather cheated Ruth's mother out of her life savings, an example of the themes of hypocrisy and injustice that the book addresses.
  • Charlene Madlee: A reporter and friend of Patty's. They meet at Patty's father's store. Charlene inspires Patty to want to become a journalist and gives her hope for the future. Charlene also is the one who brings Patty news of her trial.
  • Sister Parker: Works at the department store and was present when Anton first came in. She is also the worker Patty tells about the golden ring. She tends to have a love of gossip.

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