Here we learn that a small town has been taken over by one of the many Nazi groups during World War Two. Mr. Corell “The town good guy”, the way I view it, sent the town postmen and policemen on a boating trip, keeping them from the invasion (we learn later that “The town good guy” is really a back-stabber later in the book).
After the invasion, the Nazis request a meeting with the town’s Mayor, Mayor Orden. Joseph and Doctor Winter, two of Mayor Orden’s colleagues, await the arrival of Nazis too. The two meet Captain Bentick, a rank lower than Colonel Lanser who is the one who had requested the meeting.
Bentick searches the home. During the meeting, Annie, Mayor Orden’s cook, becomes very aggravated by the soldiers who wait outside the front porch of the Mayor’s home, and throws a pot of boiling water at them.
In this chapter, Steinbeck explains the characteristics of each of the Nazis. Major Hunter, an engineer, “arithmetician”, and seemingly indifferent to the fact that he is a soldier. Captain Bentick, a family man, was old and kind. Bentick also has a certain admiration for the English.
Captain Loft, a young man, took much pride in the fact that he was a soldier. He dreams of his own death on the battlefield, where he is respected. “Lieutenants Prackle and Tonder were snot noses, undergraduates, lieutenants, trained in the politics of the day” (Quoted out of the book; there seemed to be no sense putting it in my own words since it was right there, and couldn’t have been worded any better).
Colonel Lanser takes much pride in what he does. To me, he sees life as an order given by a higher rank that must be taken out. It is also in this chapter that Captain Bentick dies by one Alexander Morden, a town dweller.
The chapter begins with a discussion between Annie and Joseph, who are talking about Alexander Morden and the death of Captain Bentick. Joseph reveals to Annie what he surely thinks will happen… “They’ll shoot him”.
Annie is rejecting the awful thought. Unfortunately, it is true and Alex will be tried. Molly Morden, Alex’s wife, met with the Mayor because of a rumor that had been circulating in the town. “You wouldn’t convict Alex would you?”, the replies, “No”.
To the Mayor’s anger he found that he did have to sentence Alex to death; luckily he managed to shirk the awful duty.
This Chapter is very brief, it simply goes into Alex’s trial, where he is convicted and shot in a public area. Because of Alex’s death, the Mayor requests Annie to keep Molly company in her time of Mourning.
This snow begins to stick, and the Nazis begin a friendly discussion that turns into a bitter argument of being home for Christmas and when the war will end.
The chapter begins with a description of the town. The streets are quiet, lights are turned out, and fear is about. Annie arrives at the home of Molly to keep her company and to catch her up on current events. Mayor Orden will be arriving at her home soon to speak to her and the Anders’ will be leaving that very night. When she left, minutes later, Molly heard a knock at the door.
She thought of Annie and what she could’ve left behind or forgotten, but it was Lieutenant Tonder. Molly turned straight to her own defense by asking who he was and what he wanted. Tonder explained his feelings toward Molly, and Molly although seemingly flattered, she became bitter because of the death of her husband.
She calms down and apologizes for her behavior. She then begins talking about her husband and how he was killed. She then tells him that he was the one who was told to publicly execute him. When Tonder remembers, he becomes crushed because he realizes there is no chance for the two of them to remain, friends, even though their relationship had only lasted minutes. Tonder leaves and Annie enters. “You haven’t joined them have you?” Molly replies, “No Annie, I haven’t”. With Annie come the Anders brothers and the Mayor.
The two brothers tell Molly how they plan to flee and who they will take with them. “We’re also taking Mr. Corell; it’s only fitting if we also take his boat.”. The group began putting their heads together to think of some kind of retaliation. The Mayor tells the Anders brothers to tell people of what has been happening and to bring back defensive and offensive weapons. Tonder comes back and knocks on the door; Molly quickly rushes the group outside the backdoor not to be seen.
To me, this chapter is what I think of as the turning point in the book. The chapter begins with two soldiers going back and forth with meaningless dribble. One of them spots planes high in the sky. The planes begin to drop little devices with blue parachutes attached. The Nazis begin to fear what these packages are. Still, some men go on to open them, and inside them reveal plans for a revolt.
It gives directions on how to sabotage the railroads made by the Nazis. A meeting was then held about these devices (The Nazis were afraid to open them). When opened, Colonel Lanser’s anger raged to find the directions to the revolt. (At this point, Steinbeck reveals Tonder is dead as a result of coming back to Molly’s home. “Tonder’s death was of no help to us; he was lonely”) Prackle enters the room and asks to go home; he too is scared and lonely, and I believe he wants to leave because these were the same conditions Tonder was in before he died.
Colonel Lanser tells him he can’t leave, and he may do whatever he wants to the girl he desires as long as when he is asked, he will shoot her. Mr. Corell enters; he is in pain and various bones in his body are broken. “The same night Tonder died, I was waylaid,” he said (obviously by the Anders). “the two escaped in my boat, the patrol saved me”. Mr. Corell is angered by what happened to him so he requests that Mr. Lanser place Mayor Orden and Doctor Winter under arrest and placed to be hostages because the two always seem to be at the scene of the crime. Mr. Corell is sure this will stop if not slow down the revolt.
News begins to spread of the Mayor’s arrest. Even children found the devices with the blue parachutes while playing. They ate what food was in the package and hid the dynamite and told the parents where they stored it. A widespread search for more packages began by both sides of the war. Annie is working on the house and sees Mayor Orden in his room guarded by a soldier. Doctor Winter enters with another soldier.
They speak of what may happen to each other. Not surprisingly, they hadn’t spoken of death. Finally the subject of death is brought up. The two began to move away from the subject of death, and began to reminisce about old times. They recalled a quote and the Mayor began to recite it. Through the quote he left out words or forgot them and Colonel Lanser corrected him as he quietly entered the room.
Prackle barged in as the Mayor was reciting, but Lanser did not let him interrupt the Mayor. When he was done, Prackle told Lanser to find men with dynamite. Lanser tells the Mayor that this must stop, but he is denied. Not because he is angry, but because he has no control of the people. Mayor Orden told Lanser the people won’t stand for being conquered they will fight, and they will be driven out. They begin to hear explosions of rebellion, and the Mayor leaves the room awaiting his execution.