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One of the great ironic metaphors of the novel is the use of Hitler's Mein Kampf. It appears from time to time to illustrate the struggles various characters endure as they grapple with the life presented them, a life which is often only a step away from the arms of Death. Max Vandenburg, for example, carries Mein Kampf as he travels across Germany to safety with the Hubermanns. The very presence of the book protects him from German soldiers.