Who are the minor characters that had a big impact in the book Summer of My German Soldier?
Besides Patty being the main character, who are the other minor characters that had a big impact on this book?
Minor characters in the story who have a big impact on the book include Patty's parents, Harry and Pearl Bergen, her little sister Sharon, and her maternal grandmother, Grandma Fried.
Harry Bergen is an abusive, ill-tempered man who is a victim himself of repressed rage and self-hatred. He is the only Jewish merchant in their Prostestant town, and it is important to him that he downplay his ethnicity and that his family not call attention to themselves, and always go along with the majority. Harry Bergen is bitter because he is indebted to his father-in-law, who has lent him money for his business. Harry is an unhappy man, and takes his frustrations out on Patty.
Patty's mother Pearl Bergen is immature and selfish. She is a saleswoman who thinks nothing about taking others' money, and she constantly criticizes Patty, telling her she is unattractive and unfeminine. Pearl is spoiled, and even as an adult, expects special treatment from her parents.
Sharon Bergen, Patty's little sister, is everything Patty is not. She is beautiful and well-mannered, and, unlike her parents, loving and affectionate.
Grandma Fried is practical and discerning. She recognizes her daughter Pearl for the selfish woman she is, and tries to make Patty's life easier for her. Patty hopes for awhile that her Grandma Fried will be her friend and confidant in her mother's stead, but is bitter and angry when this does not happen.
There are two other characters that have a big impact on the book, so much so that they might actually be considered major characters along with Patty. The first of these is Ruth Hughes, the Bergens' black housekeeper. Ruth is a substitute mother for Patty and Sharon, a strong, good woman who tries to give Patty especially a sense of self-esteem. Ruth sticks up for Patty and is there when everyone else seems to have abandoned her. She is sympathetic to Anton both because he is Patty's friend, and because he reminds her of her own son who is a soldier. When Patty gets in trouble with the law for helping Anton, it is only Ruth who puts herself out on the line to support her.
The final important character in the book is Frederick Anton Reiker, the German POW who escapes from the prison camp and is befriended by Patty. He is intelligent, well-educated, and not at all a devoted Nazi, and by knowing him, Patty learns to think of him as a person rather than the enemy.