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PLOT STRUCTURE ANALYSIS
The plot is fairly straight forward; however, it may be complicated at times with some of the underlying historical information. It is important to remember how that the Jews were treated differently in America during WWII. Patty’s family was a wealthy, Jewish, family in the heart of a small Protestant town. Her father tried desperately to make the family blend in to their society and go along with the majority view. This is why he is so ill tempered and beats Patty every time she strays from the norm of their town. Pearl and Harry do not want to be isolated, in any way, from the society in which they live; since Patty deviates from their standers of this norm they neglect her and treat her as a failure.
The book is divided into five parts, which makes it more convenient to distinguish the important events in the novel and also the traditional plot elements: Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action and Resolution.
In the Exposition, introductory material is presented which gives the reader the setting, creates the tone and presents the characters and other facts necessary to understanding the story. Within the first couple chapters we learn all the necessary background information: the story takes place during WWII, the Bergens are a Jewish family, and Patty is extremely lonely and isolated due to poor treatment by her parents. This is all important information in understanding Patty’s character, which is the basis for the entire story.
The Rising Action is the events that build from the conflict. There are several conflicts in this story happening simultaneously: Patty trying to be accepted by her parents, herself and society, and also the fact that she befriends a German POW. The action of the story begins to rise as she befriends Anton. When Patty meets Anton, in the store, she takes such a liking for him, that we know something is bound to happen between the two. The action continues to rise when we see how belligerent Patty’s father is when he gets angry with her. Knowing this, Patty still risks her safety as well as Anton’s by illegally sheltering him.
The climax is the high point of the story and also the point at which the outcome can be predicted. The climax is prefaced when Patty’s father questions her as to where she got her ring. Here, we know her story is going to slip at some point. The action continues to rise as Patty gets questioned by the FBI. The climax approaches when the FBI agent shows Patty a picture of Anton, and his bloody shirt. From here on, the action begins to fall as Patty’s story becomes public.
The Falling Action is the events after the Climax, which close the story and lead to the resolution. After Patty sees Anton’s bloody shirt she knows he is dead. She tells her story to the FBI agent and all goes downhill from there. The mood becomes even more somber when Patty must hire a lawyer and go on trial.
The resolution is the outcome of all the events in the story. There are two resolutions in this story: one dealing with Patty physically and another dealing with her emotional well-being. Because of Patty’s loneliness and boredom, her lies, exaggerations and desire for attention cause her to be punished in the reformatory school. Emotionally however, Patty now realizes that she has been hindered by her parents. At the end of the story Patty emotions change toward her parents and herself. She no longer feels that her parents are superior to her, and she feels confidence in herself that she can begin her new life, striving to be a reporter. We can assume that Patty will move back home, after her stay at the reformatory school, but she will not spend her days bored and aiming to please her parents. She will keep learning her words and attend school. Patty will also not allow her disparaging parents affect her mentality.