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Chapters 9-11 Summary

Chapters 9-11: "Winter"

One night, there is the sound of shouting and glass smashing above the basement room. Uri and Misha barely have time to escape with their coats and shoes. From that day on, the two boys move constantly from one place to another; never again will they know together the security and stability they have found in their barbershop basement refuge.

Uri has taught Misha to steal only as much as he needs, but when a bread lady from whom he is pilfering calls him a "dirty Jew," the little boy reacts with anger. That day, Misha snatches five loaves instead of the required one. Uri tells Misha that he is wasting and takes the extra bread to a local orphanage run by a kind man, Doctor Korczak. Inspired by this example, Misha begins to steal two loaves every day and leaves one on the porch of the little girl, Janina. Misha is pleased to see Janina watching him from an upstairs window when he brings his offerings. He soon begins to find gifts—"a gumdrop...a candy cigarette...a fancy button"—left for him at the place where he puts the bread. On one occasion, he runs into another urchin who is clearly stealing the bread he has left for Janina, and the two boys get into a tussle. Misha takes a beating. Uri tells him that he is "too little to fight," so Misha starts going to Janina's house at night to avoid future confrontations. Sadly, the boy does not know that a curfew has been established, prohibiting all Jews from being on the street after dark. Seeing him racing quickly through the night, Jackboots fire upon Misha, shooting off his earlobe.

Uri and Misha visit the homeless band, and Misha gets to know "smoke-blowing Ferdi and Olek with one arm and grim-faced Enos," as well as Kuba, who is very bold, and acts like a clown. The group meets in the cemetery, and Misha smokes his first cigarette. Among the tombstones, there is a large stone angel. Enos says that angels are not real and that only Jackboots believe in them. Olek responds that he believes in angels, adding that angels help people when they are in trouble. Enos angrily points out that they did not save Olek from the train that cut off his arm, nor do they do anything for their friends Big Henryk, who is mentally challenged, and Jon, who is "thin and gray and...[clearly] dying." Suddenly, a small wagon carrying a coffin approaches. A man shouts at the boys, calling them "Hooligan Jew[s]" and shaking his fist at them. The urchins scatter.

Later, Misha tells Uri that he wants to believe in angels, but he cannot, as he is not a Jackboot. Uri disagrees, pointing out that "when you're nothing, you're free to believe anything." When Misha asks Uri if he believes in angels, Uri evades the question, commenting only, "I believe in bread."

Uri's words turn out to be ironically prophetic, because...

(The entire section is 762 words.)