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Race and Ethnicity
This is one of the most prominent themes throughout the novel. Patty’s religion, Ruth’s race, Anton’s ethnicity and the extreme prejudice throughout the town of Jenkinsville, all coincide with one another to illustrate the racial problems throughout America, especially the southern culture, during World War II.
This theme overlaps the previous; however, Ruth exemplifies this theme. Ruth does not dwell on the racial problems that divide Jenkinsville, but we still see a large difference in the way Caucasians and African Americans were treated in the south, during this time. The novel portrays this very well by using different colloquial speech, between Ruth and Patty, differences in living conditions and even jobs.
Beauty on the Inside
Patty goes against the norm, at the time, and only sees people for who they are on the inside. The two people she loves are Anton, a German POW, and Ruth, her African American housekeeper. During this time there was so much racism between these specific groups, and it would have been unheard of for an American to befriend her housekeeper and a Nazi.
Longing for Love
Throughout the entire novel Patty is longing for someone to love her, especially her parents. This recurrent theme is present to illustrate for us, how important love is between family, friends, and especially the ability to find value and love within ourselves.
The mood is quite somber throughout the novel, but takes an inspirational turn at the very end. Throughout the story, we feel bad for Patty. She is a loving, innocent girl who constantly gets into trouble for trying to do well for others. We even witness her father abusing her several times. However, it is Patty’s genuine heart that inspires us to love others for who they are on the inside and to love ourselves for each of our unique qualities.