Summary: Chapter 3: Karel

Corrie continues to reflect on her childhood. At age fourteen, Corrie meets Karel, one of Willem’s university friends, and falls in love. Tante Bep contracts tuberculosis, and Mama is sick with gallstones and strokes. When Corrie asks how they might make Tante Bep happier, Mama tells Corrie that happiness is something we make inside ourselves. After Tante Bep dies, Tante Jans learns she has diabetes. To save on medical costs, Corrie begins testing Tante Jans’ blood each week while Tante Jans continues to work at creating a soldiers’ center. Willem becomes an ordained minister and marries Tine. 

At age twenty-one, Corrie sees Karel at Willem’s wedding. Tante Jans learns that she has only weeks to live, to which she replies with the strength and faith that Father referenced in his train ticket analogy. Four months after Tante Jans’ funeral, the family attends Willem’s first sermon. Karel also attends, and he and Corrie go on daily walks. Willem warns Corrie that Karel will never marry her because his mother expects him to marry someone wealthy. When Karel visits next, he brings his wealthy fiancée, breaking Corrie’s heart. Father consoles her with the advice that God will give her the perfect way to love when the time is right.

Summary Chapter 4: The Watch Shop

In 1918, Mama suffers a cerebral hemorrhage and goes into a coma. Two months later, she regains consciousness and some mobility. Although Mama can barely speak, she still has a great capacity for love. When Nollie marries Flip van Woerden, Mama is radiant and even sings her favorite hymn but dies peacefully four weeks later. Betsie becomes ill, so Corrie takes over the shop’s sales and bookkeeping for her. Soon, Corrie and Betsie realize they are happier swapping roles. Betsie loves keeping house, and Corrie feels eager to learn Father’s trade. 

Three years later, Corrie becomes the first licensed female watchmaker in Holland. During this time, the ten Boom family takes in foster children. When Father falls ill with hepatitis, the community buys him a radio, which fills the house with news and music. Nollie’s son, Peter, reveals his musical gift when he points out a bad piano note in a concert. At home, the family listens to the news daily. They hear Hitler’s voice screaming through the radio, but the ten Boom family and most other Dutch people believe Hitler will be squelched. Father hires Otto from Germany as an apprentice, but when he learns of Otto’s anti-Semitism, the knife he keeps in his room, and his lack of respect for the elderly Christoffels, Father fires him.

Summary: Chapter 5: Invasion

The ten Boom family gathers to listen to the Prime Minister’s address about the impending war. The speech seems reassuring, but Father, now 80 years old, turns the radio off and announces that Holland will be invaded and defeated. That evening, Corrie wakes to bombing. She has a vision of her family and friends being taken away in a horse-drawn wagon. Five days later, Holland’s queen leaves, tanks advance across the border, and the family learns that Holland has surrendered. German soldiers fill Haarlem, and many buy watches. 

The ten Boom family experiences curfews, identification cards, and rations. They turn in their small radio but hide the larger one. The Germans use the airport to raid England. After soldiers invade the furrier shop of Mr. Weil, a Jewish neighbor, Corrie asks Willem to help arrange for Mr. Weil’s protection. When one of Willem’s sons, Kik, helps Mr. Weil escape, Corrie learns about the underground, an illegal group that uses sabotage to help protect the Jews. Corrie wonders how a Christian like herself should respond to evil. The family befriends Mr. de Vries, a Jewish neighbor, who moves a rabbi’s books to their home for safekeeping. While Corrie helps a Jewish doctor and his family, she experiences the horrific vision of her family unwillingly leaving Holland again.

Analysis: Chapters 3-5

Through the many life changes from her teens to the German occupation of Holland, Corrie’s life remains essentially the same, centered in family and home. The religious faith of Corrie and her family is a central theme of the narrative. As an adult, she retains her belief in Father’s goodness and wisdom, as shown by her asking his help when she is disappointed in her hope of marriage with Karel. Yet she matures enough to see his failings, such as a lack of business sense, and takes steps to compensate for them, becoming a businesswoman herself. Her management of the shop foreshadows the leadership role she will take in the underground movement during the war. Her description of her actions during the prewar period illustrates her competence and practical intelligence as well as her narrow focus on the stable life of the shop and the family. While family events such as deaths, births, the arrival of foster children, and the discovery of Peter’s musical talent gently introduce the motif of change, it is change in a predictable, familiar pattern, like the familiar faces of the people Corrie and Father see on the daily walks.

The sequence surrounding Tante Jans’s death incorporates the book’s central themes of family, mutual aid, and faith. Corrie’s responsibility for the weekly blood test, although she is not very fond of Tante Jans, shows her unquestioning dedication to the needs of the family. Underlining this shared attitude of the ten Booms, Father’s decision that the entire family must tell Tante Jans the bad news together, and the comforting words that each one tries to add, reveal their unity. Tante Jans’s surprising casting off of her lifelong fear of death is interpreted by Corrie as a divine gift of strength at the moment of need, and Tante Jans’s own response to the news is explicitly one of faith and thankful prayers, affirming Corrie’s understanding of what she sees.

Foreshadowed by Otto’s time in the watch shop, the German invasion disrupts the calm life of Haarlem, with conditions growing steadily worse for the Dutch residents and the Jews among them threatened most of all. Otto exemplifies the attitude of the stereotypical Nazi: a sense of superiority, unnecessary cruelty for the pleasure of it, contempt for elders and for religion, and a bias toward violence. Father responds both to Otto and to the Prime Minister’s radio speech in ways that Corrie and Betsie have never seen before. Immediately after Father’s angry response to the radio speech, the bombing brings the end of the old, stable life in Haarlem. Corrie too finds herself doing something she has never done before: lying. As anti-Semitism grows and normality wanes, she, Father and Betsie begin making small changes to their habits in order to protect their Jewish friends and customers. At the end of the section, Corrie makes a personal commitment that she is prepared to go as far as necessary, even to die, to protect others. While she has changed from her lifelong habit of obeying laws and authorities to actively breaking the law in resistance of the occupying Germans, her underlying character has not changed at all. She is still following the course of action she believes to be right and necessary, doing her duty.