Chapters 4-5 Summary
Giddy with the thought that Anton Reiker might indeed be her friend, Patty becomes desperate to talk to someone about him. She approaches Sister Parker, who works over in the notions department of the store, and nonchalantly brings up the subject of the German prisoners in general. After engaging in some small talk, Patty boldly mentions Anton, telling Sister Parker that one of the POWs spoke perfect English, and was exceptionally polite. Suddenly interested, Sister Parker says that she saw Patty smiling and laughing with Anton, and insinuatingly asks if she liked him. Realizing her mistake, Patty prevaricates, telling the older woman that she can spread any kind of gossip that she wants, but that the truth is that Anton had told her that he hates Hitler, and prays that God will allow the Americans to win the war.
Still anxious to talk to someone about her new friend, Patty goes to visit one of her classmates, Edna Louise Jackson. Edna Louise is "boy crazy," so Patty knows she will understand. When Patty reveals that she has met someone she likes, and that he is a German from the prison camp, Edna Louise retorts, "That's almost as bad as going out with a nigger!" Repulsed by the girl's reaction, Patty responds that Anton is a very good person, and that someday, they will meet again under better circumstances. Patty says she has to go home in an attempt to quash the opportunity to divulge further tantalizing news to her classmate, but Edna Louise has already lost interest in her story, focusing her attention back to the soap opera she had been listening to on the radio.
On Thursday, Patty takes the train to Memphis, where Grandma Fried treats her to a lavish lunch and a shopping spree. The older woman hints at other days like this to come, and Patty, elated, promises that next Thursday, when she returns, Grandma will not have to spend a cent on her, adding poignantly, "I just want to be with you." Sadly, Patty has misinterpreted her grandmother's intentions. Grandma Fried will be going away on vacation and will not be back until the end of August. Bitterly disappointed, Patty feigns indifference, but weeps all the way home on the train.
The rest of the summer stretches ahead dismally; all of Patty's friends are away at Baptist Training Camp, and there is no one to talk to and nothing to do. Bored and lonely, Patty bikes out to the prison camp a few times, but never does see Anton Reiker. Patty begins spending most of her time in what she calls her hide-out, a forgotten apartment which used to be a servants' quarters located above the family's garage, near the railroad tracks. The hide-out can only be accessed by clambering...
(The entire section is 706 words.)