Summary and Analysis
Part 2: The Shoulder Shrug: Hitler's Birthday, 1940
Molching and the rest of Germany are preparing for a large celebration in honor of the Führer. Nazi Party members go from house to house collecting fuel for a large bonfire, requesting any type of enemy propaganda for the burning. Every house hangs the swastika flag out front. Trudy and Hans Junior, Hans and Rosa's grown children, come for the afternoon, and Hans Junior asks his father if he's attempted to join the Nazi Party again. Hans's application was rejected on a prior attempt because he painted over slurs painted on a Jewish shop front, which earned him the name "the Jew painter." Hans Junior is an avid supporter of the Nazi Party and calls his father a coward for not trying harder to join and for his lack of support for his country. Hans Junior storms out of the house, and Hans follows, only to be shrugged off by his son.
This chapter establishes and elaborates on the growing tension in Germany, Molching, and even within the Hubermann family. The outer world's tension parallels the inner tension of the Hubermann household. Similarly, the differing beliefs of Hans and Hans Junior parallel the conflict occurring amongst the German people. This chapter also serves as a vehicle for Death to foreshadow the war's progress by using Hans Junior, explaining that Hans Junior's exit from the house will lead him to tragedy in Stalingrad. This, in turn, allows Death to discuss the events of Stalingrad, the splashes of blood, emphasizing the color theme, and the many souls Death would have to carry from that place.