86 pages 2 hours read

Alan Gratz


Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 2019

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Character Analysis

Dee Carpenter aka Dietrich Zimmermann

Dee is a 16-year-old American soldier who has yet to see action as he lands on Omaha Beach. Dee is idealistic, cooperative, and courageous. He is committed to the American/Ally cause of freeing Europe from the Nazis, so much so that he forges his personal documents to join the military early. However, Dee is caught up in a profound internal conflict because of his identity as a native German citizen whose parents brought him to the US as a young child. The underlying question for Dee as he enters battle is how much he will identify with the German soldiers he will encounter. He fears discovering that he has an innate loyalty to his natal homeland rather than his adopted country and its values. He also fears that his parents’ decision to escape Germany rather than defying Hitler directly shows that their convictions against Nazism were weak and he worries what his Jewish friend’s reaction will be when he learns the truth. Dee partially blames himself for the situation that has arisen in Germany, as he sees its impacts firsthand. By giving his adolescent protagonist these concerns about identity, Gratz mirrors the examination of self and identity that many teenagers go through as they mature.