In Summer of My German Soldier, why do Anton and Ruth feel it is time for Anton to leave his hiding place? Why doesn't Patty agree?

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dymatsuoka | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Anton and Ruth feel it is time for Anton to leave his hiding place because it is becoming too dangerous for him to stay.  Patty doesn't agree because she loves Anton, and cannot bear the thought of him leaving her forever.

When Patty reveals to Ruth that the man hiding in the garage is the German prisoner for whom the law is searching, Ruth doesn't know what to think.  She knows that Anton is a good man because she had seen him ready to run out and sacrifice himself when Patty was being beaten by her father, but as an adult, she is also aware of the grave consequences to herself and Patty which would occur should they be found harboring a fugitive.  Ruth initially tells Patty, "my mind ain't come to no clear thought yet"; she needs time to think, and while she is doing that, she makes a hearty breakfast for Patty and Anton.

Ruth and Anton get to know each other while Anton and Patty are eating Ruth's delicious griddle cakes.  Anton had just expressed concern that Patty's beating may have had something to do with him, but Patty had assured him that it had not.  Even so, while the three are talking in the kitchen, a car pulls up in the driveway, and, in a panic that someone should discover Anton, Ruth tells Patty to hide him under her bed.  The visitor turns out to a neighbor, who, after taking care of her business, goes on her way, but the incident impresses on the minds of Ruth and Anton the danger of him staying any longer.  Anton says,

"About what happened - I'm sorry.  There's no reason why you both should have to take risks.  Tonight when it's dark, I'll go",

and Ruth does nothing to stop him.  In the social hierarchy of the South at that time, Ruth as a Black woman and Patty as a Jewish girl are powerless under the best of conditions.  The consequences to them should it be discovered that they are harboring a fugitive would be severe, and there would be little that they could do to help Anton.

Patty, on her part, does not agree that Anton should leave.  He is the one person in her lonely life other than Ruth who sees value in her, and actually likes her.  Patty cannot bear the thought that she will never see Anton again; she is desperate that he stay awhile longer (Chapters 11-13).

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