What is the main conflict in The Summer of My German Soldier?

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There are several conflicts that arise surrounding Patty Bergen in Bette Greene's teen novel Summer of My German Soldier. The main one arises over her decision to hide the escaped German POW, Anton Reiker, after he escapes from the local prison. She feels love for the escaped prisoner, who is many years older than she; Anton obviously cares for Patty, and he kisses her before boarding the train to escape Jenkinsville; however, his actions are based primarily on the desire for freedom and the safety of his hiding place. Patty's decision eventually lands her in a juvenile facility, but it also affects her Jewish family, whose members are hounded with the taunts of "Nazi Jew" by townspeople after Patty's treasonous act is discovered. It further isolates Patty from her family, who scorn Patty after she is arrested.

Other conflicts arise between Patty and her father, who beats her when she is perceived to misbehave. Patty also feels like an outcast as a Jewish girl in rural Arkansas, which has an incredibly small number of Jewish people living in the area. There are other conflicts involving her father and his estranged parents; and with Ruth, the outspoken Negro housekeeper.

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