What opinion does Ruth have of white community members in Summer of My German Soldier?I need help figuring this out!!

Expert Answers
bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ruth, the Negro housekeeper in Summer of My German Soldier, understands her place in Arkansas society of the 1940s. She knows that black people--and particularly black women--are supposed to show their servile manner in the presence of white people. But, as Patty explains, Ruth

... seems best suited for walking that thinnest of lines between respectfulness and subserviance.

Though Ruth is rarely outwardly disrespectful to white people, she finds ways to exert her independence. When she sees that Mrs. Benn is about to buy up the remainder of the discounted hamburger at the Sav-Mor Market, Ruth

"... practically breaks out in a run to get their first."

It angers Mrs. Been so much that she wants Mrs. Bergen to fire "that uppity Nigra!" Another way Ruth shows her rebellious side is by refusing to address white people by their first name preceded by "Mister" or "Missus," as was the custom. Instead of calling Patty's prisoner "Mr. Anton," she called him "Mr. Reiker"--a form of address reserved for white people.

Ruth has learned not to trust white people, in part from her mother's experiences with a local businessman who stole most of her savings. She was not happy when her son, Robert, who was set to attend Morehouse College, received his military notice from the Jenkinsville draft board. She tells Patty that

... it is all a lie what the white folks keep saying. That lie they tell each other so often that they come to believe it's true: "I understands these niggers; they're happy and they don't know no better." 

Read the study guide:
Summer of My German Soldier

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question