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Free Study Guide-Summer Of My German Soldier by Bette Greene-Book Notes
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BACKGROUND INFORMATION - BIOGRAPHY

Bette Greene was born in 1934. Her background is very similar to that of her heroine, Patty Bergen; she grew up in a Jewish family in Arkansas and Memphis during WWII. Bette Greene later became a journalist and wrote for the Memphis Commercial Appeal (just as Charlene Madlee).

Summer of My German Soldier was published in 1973 and was Greene’s first novel.

Some of her other works include: Morning Is a Long Time Coming, which was a sequel to Summer of My German Soldier, published in 1978, Them That Glitter and Them That Don’t (1983), and a series of “Philip Hall” books, which include Phillip Hall Likes Me, I Reckon Maybe (1976), Get Out of Here, Philip Hall (1982); and I’ve Already Forgotten Your Name, Philip Hall! (1983).

During her childhood, Greene’s friends thought she was extremely fortunate because her parents owned and ran a county store. However, like Patty, Greene felt isolated because of her religion. Her religion and beliefs caused her to feel alienated from her community and also made her feel very uncomfortable with herself. In more ways than one, Greene has based her heroine, Patty Bergen, off of her own childhood experiences.

LITERARY/HISTORICAL INFORMATION

Racism in the Southern United States-The story takes place in a small town in Arkansas, which is a southern state. During this time, racism was prominent in the south, mostly between blacks and whites. African Americans were originally brought to the United States to work on plantations and produce raw materials. These slaves played a large part in building the economy of the United States. The southern states relied on slaves for the mass production of cotton. Although slaves were freed, African Americans still faced many hardships for equality, especially in the southern states. Small towns, such as Jenkinsville, where the story takes place, remained very divided amongst blacks and whites during World War II.


World War II-(WWII) is an extremely complex war arising from many different situations. The war began around 1939 as the result of a conflict between Germany and an Anglo-French coalition. It eventually involved most of the nations around the world. The war ended in 1945, with the emergence of a world dominated by the United States.

Adolf Hitler was the leader of the German National Socialist Party (Nazi); he wanted to take over France to increase living space for Germany. He believed that Germans were of a superior race and had right to the land of other countries. This extremely brief explanation on the start of the war, was the root for many problems and conflicts which later involved Italy, Japan, the United States, France, England etc. leading to WWII.

Hitler believed that the Jewish to be of such an inferior race; he created a massive genocide movement against the Jews. This is why there was much tension during this time between Jewish people, such as Patty and Germans, like Anton.

The Nazis were the soldiers who fought to defend Germany, under the dictation of Adolf Hitler. Many were young boys around the ages of 18-22. Hitler was such a powerful leader in Germany, that many young boys were said to be brainwashed into wanting to fight for Hitler’s beliefs; however, many Nazis did not believe in Hitler and were forced to fight for their country regardless.

World War II in America-Although the war was not fought in the United States, it still had a great impact on the lives of Americans. They were subjected to rationing food, such as milk and butter, and also daily supplies such as gasoline. Since many of the young men had been sent overseas to protect America from Hitler, the American industry was forced to hire previously marginalized workers, such as women. Many jobs lost because of the war, in the agriculture industry, were filled by POWs. In the southern states, the POWs picked cotton, harvested tobacco and cut sugarcane.

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