Chapters 5-8 Summary

Chapters 5-8: "Autumn"

During the bombardment, sirens scream every day. Uri and Stopthief go outside only at night to see the city on fire beyond the rooftops. One day, the sirens are finally silent, and Uri takes Stopthief out into the street. Twisted skeletons of streetcars and the shattered remains of buildings dot the landscape. People are everywhere, all heading in the same direction. One person starts running, and Stopthief, thinking delightedly that it must be a race, streaks after him.

Breaking through the mob, Stopthief is struck on the ear and falls to the ground. When he looks up, he is faced with lines and lines of "the tallest, blackest, shiniest boots [he has] ever seen." Knowing instinctively that these are the Jackboots Uri has spoken about, Stopthief watches in awe. One of the soldiers looks down at him and amiably calls him a "tiny little Jew," but Stopthief corrects him, saying, "I'm not a Jew...I'm a Gypsy." Uri finally catches up with Stopthief, and the little boy notices that his friend is not cheering the grand parade. The crowd, too, is somber, and someone throws out a single white flower, which bounces from one of the Jackboot tanks and breaks into petals.

The next morning, the world outside is changed. The Jackboots distribute bread among the people, but also seem to go out of their way to torment men with beards who wear long coats. One of these sad individuals is forced to clean the sidewalk with his beard, while another is crudely shorn of his hair right out on the street. When Stopthief, still impressed with the majesty of the soldiers, declares that he wants to be a Jackboot, Uri smacks him in the face. That night, as he reflects upon what he has seen, it suddenly occurs to Stopthief that the bearded men who are being victimized in the city are Jews.

The days immediately following the coming of the Jackboots are "good times" for the street children. They prowl...

(The entire section is 798 words.)