Chapter 1 Summary
Fatelessness is set in Hungary in the midst of the Holocaust and the Second World War. When the novel begins, Georg Koves (Gyuri) explains to his teacher that his father has asked him to stay home from school. The teacher sends him home. Gyuri’s father is about to be sent away for “labor service,” and this is Gyuri’s last chance to spend time with him. However, his father spends the day at his shop, which Gyuri soon begins to find a bit boring. Eventually he grows so bored that he passes the time by going outside to relieve himself and then washing his hands. Gyuri's father gives over control of the shop to his assistant, Mr. Sütõ, because the latter is “completely aboveboard regarding his race” and will be allowed to run the business. Mr. Sütõ offers to write a receipt, but Gyuri’s father insists that there is no need for such things between the two of them.
Gyuri’s stepmother has a list of the things his father will need in the labor camp. She has procured most of the items at this point, and is tracking down the things that are still missing. Gyuri notes that he feels odd walking around in a group of three, all wearing the yellow stars, but they nevertheless go about buying the necessary items. Most of the shops are quite busy, but there is a lot of room in the shop where they buy the knapsack. Gyuri notices that the shopkeeper is quite nice, but that he tries to avoid having to use the word labor service and instead refers to items that will be useful “where he is going.”
Back at home, Gyuri runs into Annamarie, a girl who lives in the same building. Annamarie, Gyuri notes, is like him, “fourteen years old, or thereabouts.” She invites him to play rummy after supper with her and her sisters, but Gyuri declines the invitation when he remembers that his father is soon to leave. Instead, he returns home, where his stepmother has made supper. Gyuri’s father refuses to eat more than his...
(The entire section is 508 words.)