What are the main characters of the story Summer of My German Soldier?

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Although Patty Bergen is the narrator and main character in Summer of My German Soldier, there are several other important characters in the novel.

PATTY BERGEN.  The narrator and protagonist of the novel, Patty is a young Jewish girl living in Jenkinsville, Arkansas. A lonely outcast (primarily because of her religion), Patty befriends and then hides a German POW who has escaped from the local prison camp. When it is discovered that she harbored the fugitive, she is sent to a juvenile prison.

FREDERICK ANTON REIKER.  An English-speaking German POW, Anton escapes from the local prison camp and hides in Patty's garage. He eventually manages to escape, but is later killed in New York City.  

MR. BERGEN.  Patty's father owns a local general store. He is a strict father, estranged from his own parents, and he beats Patty on occasion.

RUTH.  Ruth is the Bergen family's Negro maid and always a friend to Patty. Often outspoken, Ruth makes the long trip to visit Patty in prison, bringing her fried chicken.

CHARLENE MADLEE.  A Memphis reporter, Charlene covers the escape of Anton Reiker and, later, Patty's trial, befriending Patty in the process. She gives Patty a subscription to her paper and visits her in prison.


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sarroyo | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

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There is really only one MAIN character in "Summer of My German Soldier. Patty is the protagonist in the story, as the entire plot centers on her maturing and ultimately facing down her father.
I would argue that Ruth's character is more important than that of Pearl, because Ruth supplants the motherly role, and treats Patty more as a mother should, then Pearl does.
Sharon is in the story merely to be a foil against whom Patty is frequently measured by her parents.
Anton of course, provides the conflict necessary for the story.