Summer of My German Soldier

by Bette Greene

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What happened to Mr. Lee in Summer of My German Soldier?

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Mr. Chu Lee was one of the minor characters in Bette Greene's novel Summer of My German Soldier. A Chinese immigrant, Lee and his wife were the owners of The Chu Lee Grocery Co. in Jenkinsville, Arkansas--"the first merchant to open every morning and the very last to close." A hard-working man, Lee--known as "the Chink"--and his wife lived in the back of the store, which was emblazoned with with a large Coca-Cola sign in the front. Shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, someone broke out the front window of his store and "without so much as a going-out-of-business sale," he and his wife packed up and left town. Apparently, the patriotic fury which enveloped the town so overwhelmed at least one citizen that he was unable to understand the difference between Chinese and Japanese. Patty laments that at least it would have made a bit more since if the Lees had been Japanese.

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