Summer of My German Soldier: Metaphor Analysis
Anton’s ring operates as a symbol on various levels. He gives it to Patty as a sign of friendship and, therefore, represents how much he values her kindness.
It used to belong to his great-grandfather, who was the president of the University of Göttingen, and because of this it also represents the acquiring of knowledge in an era that pre-dates Nazi rule. In conjunction with this point, its value is rated at 24 carat gold, which means it is pure both literally and figuratively. This purity is associated with the more innocent era before the mass technological genocide enacted by the Nazis and, on a micro level, with the innocence that Patty represents as a 12-year-old child.
In terms of the future, this ring offers hope to Patty after Anton’s death and symbolizes a possible hope for peace.
Harry Bergen’s shirt
When Patty gives Anton her father’s shirt, she symbolically chooses her friend over her father. She makes the conscious decision to give Anton the gift her father has rejected.
This shirt, which bears Harry’s initials, was keenly sought for by Patty when she was buying it as a father’s day gift. He barely thanked her for it and never wore it and so also represents his distance from her.
Because the shirt is unique, it is also an ironic symbol as it not only represents Patty’s betrayal of her father (in preference for Anton), but it also betrays her. Once Anton is killed, the FBI investigators are able to have the shirt identified quite easily by Patty’s father.
This metaphor is used in the last chapter as Patty says goodbye to Ruth. Before she leaves, Patty clings to her as though she is a life raft (and, it follows, that she feels as though she is drowning). The novel ends on a positive note, however, when she decides to swim to shore alone, even if it takes her a life time.
The hide-out is typically a place created by children as they separate from parental control. It also becomes a shelter for Anton when he escapes from the prison camp. When considering metaphors, this place may also be interpreted as a sanctuary for Patty to hide away from the vindictiveness of her mother and brutality of her father.