The Hiding Place

The Hiding Place Summary and Analysis of Chapter 14: The Blue Sweater


The gray day after Betsie’s hospitalization leaves Corrie feeling very lonely. So Corrie sneaks away from digging potatoes in order to see her sister. As Corrie enters a window to a latrine room in the hospital, to her horror she sees a pile of bodies in the corner. Betsie, however, looks better after rest in bed, and this improvement cheers Corrie after the disturbing sight in the washroom. Three days later, Betsie returns from the hospital and takes her permanent place on the knitting brigade. Betsie continues to minister to the women around her and thanks God for the lack of supervision. Finally Betsie learns the reason for the freedom in the barracks. The sisters realize that the fleas were a blessing in disguise; the guards stayed away from the barracks because of the disgusting pests.

Despite Betsie’s stay in the hospital, her condition continues to worsen. Corrie holds her sister up during roll call, especially because women who faint or stumble are beaten. Corrie asks if they can make a home for these people after the war, thinking of the prisoners. Betsie tells her yes, thinking of the guards instead.

During the next Friday medical inspection, the doctor uses a stethoscope and provides a genuine examination. The camp is looking for stronger prisoners who can be transferred to munitions work, which the German army badly needs. Corrie, who knows she is stronger than Betsie, asks God not to separate her from her sister. When Corrie fails her reading test on purpose, the eye doctor asks her why she did it. He is puzzled because munitions workers get better food and care. She explains that she cannot leave her sister and he gives her an eye appointment for the next day. Fortunately, the transport truck has left by the time Corrie comes to pick out a pair of glasses that do not work.

Because of Corrie’s appointment, she has no work detail for that week and makes her way to the knitting brigade. The time in the knitting barracks is the best Corrie experiences in Ravensbruck, with relatively easy work and proximity to her sister. Moreover, Betsie and Corrie have a chance to share the gospel, minister to the neighboring knitters, and pray for healing in Germany, Europe and the world. They pray even pray for the guards in their camp. After the war, the sisters plan to open a home for people damaged by the horrors of concentration camps.

However, the small comforts afforded by working in the knitting brigade are countered by new atrocities. The prisoners witness the arrival of elderly people who are taken to the camp crematorium. The bitter cold of winter hits Ravensbruck hard, forcing the prisoners to stamp their feet during roll call to increase circulation. Punishments increase, too; when three women linger in the barracks, the guards make roll call an hour earlier. Another day, a woman is missing during roll, so the guards make all the prisoners remain standing in their ranks. In the afternoon, guards find the woman dead on her sleeping platform.

As the cold weather worsens, Corrie and the rest of the camp succumb to the temptation of thinking self-interestedly. Selfishness manifests itself in small ways, which Corrie thinks are all right. She and Betsie stand in middle of the ranks during roll call to keep warm while women on the end freeze. Corrie saves the yeast compound for Betsie, rather than sharing it among the others. Corrie reasons that these actions are not wrong, like murder or sadism. Corrie also tells herself that she and Betsie must remain strong because their ministry is important. However, Corrie realizes that the great trick of Satan is to believe that small secret sins are all right. Corrie sees this cancer of selfishness spreading in barracks and throughout the camp. Joy and power drain from Corrie’s ministry and her prayers become mechanical. Although Betsie would like to take over reading the Bible from Corrie, who reads without feeling, her cough prevents her. However, Corrie comes across scripture that changes this attitude. Corrie reads Paul’s account of thorn in the flesh, when Paul begs God to take away his weakness. When God tells Paul to rely on him, Paul realizes that he sees his weakness as something to be thankful for. Paul comes to know that it is God’s strength, not his own, which creates change. Corrie asks forgiveness for thinking that the power to help came from her rather than God. Upon realizing this fact, Corrie shares the truth about her selfishness, stinginess and lack of love with the women sitting near her. That night, real joy returns to Corrie’s worship.

On week before Christmas, Betsie cannot move her limbs. The guard on duty, nicknamed “The Snake,” tells Corrie that all prisoners have to be at roll call and Betsie can register at sick call later. After Corrie and another Dutch woman carry Betsie to sick call, long lines force them to return with Betsie to the sleeping barracks. Betsie makes Corrie promise that they will open a home to teach people with warped philosophy to learn another way. A few days later, “The Snake” orders a stretcher for Betsie and Corrie wonders what softened this cruel guard’s heart to spare Betsie the sick line. Although Corrie has no permission, she follows her sister into the hospital. Betsie thinks that they will be free by the first day of the year. When Corrie visits Betsie again the next day with the Snake’s permission, Betsie can barely speak. The day after, Corrie sees a frail body through the window and realizes it is her sister. The Dutch nurse takes her to the washroom where Corrie sees her sister, free of this camp and its suffering. Corrie believes that she sees the Betsie of heaven, which lessens the pain of leaving the lice-ridden blue sweater, their last physical tie.


In chapter fourteen, Corrie describes how her sister Betsie dies in the Ravensbruck hospital. During the final year of Ravensbruck’s operation, over eighty prisoners died each day from disease, starvation and physical exhaustion. Betsie dies before the camp began mass extermination of the prisoners in order to hide the evidence. Although Corrie does not know this fact, she feels grateful for Betsie’s release from prison.

The setting of this chapter is internal and interpersonal, rather than the external environment, which alters little from the time of Betsie and Corrie’s arrival. Corrie focuses on human interactions and their ministry to the women in their barracks. Although Corrie does not describe the camp in further detail, she conveys the atmosphere of terror during the final weeks. Guards increase acts of violence on prisoners because they are afraid of reports that Germany is losing the war. Anxiety dominates the actions of many at Ravensbruck.

Corrie experiences the frustration of bureaucracy again, when the guards force everyone to wait after roll call until a woman is found. The meaningless waiting is heavily symbolic of Betsie and Corrie’s time in Ravensbruck. However, Corrie and Betsie rediscover what they believe is God’s purpose upon learning that the fleas prevented guards from entering the barracks. Betsie and Corrie are thankful for God’s provision even in small matters.

The main internal conflict for Corrie in chapter fourteen is the temptation to be selfish and self-interested. Corrie judges her actions strictly when she realizes that she has been selfish and sinful. For Corrie, the scriptural metaphor of the thorn in Paul’s side represents the need to rely fully on God. Although Corrie sees her behavior as negative, she displays how much she has developed as a character. The narrative also testifies to Betsie’s positive influence on her sister throughout their lives.

Finally, Corrie returns to the image of the blue sweater, which Nollie sent to her in Scheveningen. In prison, Corrie used the sweater for warmth and as a reminder of the world beyond her prison cell. When Betsie dies, Corrie feels the physical loss of her sister, but believes they will reunite in heaven. Although Corrie cannot keep the lice-ridden sweater, she converts the sweater into a memory of her time with Betsie. Now the bond between the sisters is spiritual rather than physical. Despite the tragedy of Betsie’s death, Corrie feels hopeful at the close of the chapter.