Chapters 2-4 Summary

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After leaving the prison camp, Joseph walks to the village of Zakyna. As he approaches, a drunken German soldier asks him for some cigarettes. In trying to avoid the soldier, Joseph ends up below the village, where a group of people are waiting for an approaching car. Joseph jumps behind the wall of snow made by a plough and realizes the car is making deliveries. As the luggage and other cargo is being unloaded, Joseph is forced to find different hiding spots and eventually ends up in one of the crates that has just been offloaded. Suddenly Joseph realizes the crate is moving and he is being transported across the valley on an aerial lift.

On the far side of the valley, the crates are being unloaded by an old Polish man. Joseph pretends to have a gun and orders the man not to say anything. Still disguised as a German guard, Joseph tells the man to take him to his home and not to let anyone over on the aerial lift. The man lives with his wife in a nearby house in the mountains. Once inside, Joseph reveals to the couple that the gun is really just a bar of chocolate. At that moment the alarm bell from the prison begins to ring. Joseph tells them that he is a Pole who has escaped and he is only pretending to be a guard. They agree to hide him and the next morning the old man returns to work at the lift.

Although the old man says he will be able to warn them if anyone is coming, Joseph and the old woman are surprised by two guards who are searching for the escapee. Joseph is able to hide in the chimney, which has a secret compartment, and remains safe even after one of the soldiers fires his gun up the chimney. After resting for a few weeks, Joseph is guided by the old man out of the mountains and begins his journey back to Warsaw.

After walking for over four weeks, Joseph returns to find that Warsaw has been completely ruined from the war. It takes him three days to find his old street, but nothing remains of his old schoolhouse or home. A woman from his old neighborhood tells him the Nazis took his wife away to work in Germany. She also tells him that one of his children shot at the soldiers who were taking Margrit away and, in retaliation, the Nazis burned the house and the children have not been seen since.

Joseph knows that if his wife can escape from forced labor in Germany she will try to meet him in Switzerland, but he doesn’t want to leave Warsaw while there is still hope of finding his children. As he is looking through the rubble of his old home, he finds a small silver sword that he had once given to his wife. Immediately afterwards, he meets a strange boy named Jan who carries a kitten under one arm and a wooden box under the other. Joseph asks Jan if he has seen his children, but Jan only says, “Warsaw is full of lost children.” Jan asks for the silver sword and Joseph gives it to him on the condition that if Jan finds any of Joseph’s children he will tell them to go to Switzerland.

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Chapter 1 Summary


Chapters 5-7 Summary