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Chapters 1-4 Summary

Chapter 1: "Memory"

The little boy's very first memory is of running. He is clutching a loaf of bread against his chest, and someone is chasing him, shouting, "Stop! Thief!" Sometimes it is a dream, and other times it is just a memory that comes in the middle of the day. The little boy never stops long enough to eat the bread.

Chapters 2-4: "Summer"

The boy remembers sirens screaming and "thumping noises, like distant thunder." He is being dragged along by a much bigger youth with red hair, who plunges him into a dark shelter. The bigger boy snatches the bread and breaks it in half, taking one part for himself. He says harshly, "You're lucky...soon it won't be ladies chasing you...it will be Jackboots." The little boy asks the bigger one what the thumping sounds in the distance are, and he learns that it is "Jackboot artillery; big guns...shelling the city." The little boy wonders what Jackboots are.

Impressed with his new friend's quickness and skill at stealing, the bigger boy introduces himself as Uri. The little one tells Uri that his name is Stopthief.

Uri takes Stopthief to meet a group of homeless urchins who live in a stable. Stopthief is amazed to see a tall pile of stolen goods in the corner of the room, a pile made up of all varieties of bread, sausages, fruits, and candies, as well as watches, combs, and furs with the thin, flat faces of foxes. The boys, who are eating and smoking, make fun of Stopthief because of his diminutive stature. Uri defends him, pointing out that Stopthief's tininess and agility are great assets in the life that they all live. One of the boys, who is smoking, asks Stopthief how old he is, but the little one does not know. The smoker then asks if he is a Jew, and is astounded when Stopthief replies, "What's a Jew?" A boy with a particularly dour demeanor answers, "A Jew is an animal...a Jew is a bug...a Jew is less than a bug." One youth, regarding Stopthief, observes, "He's a Jew if I ever saw one." Another chimes in, saying, "Yeah, he's in for it all right...we're all in for it...we're in for it good."

A particularly serious boy then comments on the yellow stone that the newcomer wears on a string around his neck. Stopthief has had it as long as he can remember. The serious boy concludes that Stopthief is a Gypsy. Sadly, Gypsies are hated almost as much as Jews. The boys then joke about the myths that their world at large believes about Jews. They begin throwing food at each other and creating a ruckus. When the stableman comes, everyone runs away, scattering in all directions. Uri takes Stopthief with him through the streets and alleyways to a cellar beneath an abandoned barbershop. The cellar is quite comfortable, and tomorrow, Uri promises to...

(The entire section is 741 words.)