In the book, Anton is handsome, charming, courageous, kind, and humble.
He treats Patty with great kindness and old-world courtesy. When Patty presents a shirt to her father as a Father's Day gift, her father is barely civil in his response. Hurt by his indifference, Patty gives the shirt to Anton. For his part, Anton responds with affection and appreciation; his grateful response overwhelms Patty with emotion.
When Patty's father beats her for playing with Freddy Dowd, a poor white boy, Anton tries to save his friend. For her part, Patty screams at Anton to go away when she sees that he's about to reveal himself. Anton's courageous behavior is demonstrated in his willingness to assume a huge risk on Patty's behalf.
Despite his courageous behavior, however, Anton doesn't gloat. He feels that he's been a coward for too long, and he's glad that he's finally acting with courage:
"After almost two years of being as inconspicuous a coward as possible I had no idea that I would voluntarily risk my life for anyone...But I'm glad I could. I'm glad I still could."
Anton's humility disarms Patty, and she finds herself falling in love with the German soldier. Before he leaves, Anton bequeaths Patty his most prized possession: his great-grandfather's university ring. Anton's great-grandfather was once the president of the University of Gottingen, and Anton gives Patty the ring because he wants her to know her own value.
"Am I still your teacher?...Then, I want you to learn this, our last, lesson. Even if you forget everything else, I want you to always remember that you are a person of value, and you have a friend who loved you enough to give you his most valued possession."