The many themes explored in this novel include prejudice, self-esteem and family.
Prejudice exists in many forms, some of them ironic. While Anton, as a German soldier, might be assumed to be a Nazi sympathizer and therefore antisemitic, he is not pro-Nazi and develops a relationship with Patty, who is Jewish. He is, however, a German patriot and wants desperately to get back to Germany. On the other hand, the townspeople show prejudice towards the German soldiers, and many white families in town maintain black servants.
Another theme is that of self-esteem, especially in the face of abuse or personal difficulty. At the beginning of the book, Patty is abused by her father and is insulted by her mother. As she gets to know Anton and forms an attachment to him, her self-esteem grows and she learns that she has value as a person.
Family is another reoccurring theme in this novel, more prominently in negative ways towards the main character, Patty.