LitScope: Dear Mr. Kilmer by Anne Schraff

LitScope: Dear Mr. Kilmer by Anne Schraff |Synopsis|Character traits|Themes

For Malaysian Form 5 Students in Perlis, Kedah, Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Putrajaya, Negeri Sembilan and Malacca.

Table of Contents

Elements of the Short Story
Chapter by chapter synopsis
Chapter 1 Synopsis – Richard Knight’s first deer hunt
Chapter 2 Synopsis – United States declares war on Germany
Chapter 3 Synopsis – War against Germany takes a toll on Hannah’s family
Chapter 4 – An Echo from New York
Chapter 5 Synopsis – School comes to an end.
Chapter 6 Synopsis – Best Essay to Perform in Play.
Chapter 7 Synopsis – Richard and Hannah’s dilemma.
Chapter 8 Synopsis – “… they’re not our people,” Pa tells Richard.
Chapter 9 Synopsis – Chapter 9 synopsis: Gus to war, Kilmer to history.
Chapter 10 Synopsis – Richard’s poem to late Kilmer unlocks Pa.
Download your preferred synopsis below.
Character Traits.
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Elements of the Short Story


Physical Setting

  • United States of America – Wincosin, Turtle Lake – Iowa, high school, the family farm, the Schermers’ Tavern.


  • Early 1940s
The Author: Anne Schraff
  • A full time writer.
  • Born in Cleveland, Ohio and graduated from California State University, Northridge.
  • Taught in high school from 1697 to 1977.


Chapter by chapter synopsis below.

Dear Mr. Kilmer

Chapter 1 Synopsis – Richard Knight’s first deer hunt


In the early hours of Sunday morning, before the Sun was even up, Richard Knight, along with Gus and Richard’s father headed to the forest. The weather was freezing. Richard’s father, Pa, looked forward to this very day, as today will be Richard’s first hunt. Richard, at 15, was as tall as Pa and was the only member of the family that looked like his mother. She died when Richard was only seven. Nevertheless, Richard, Gus and Pa set-up an ambush by a stream, a place frequented by deer to quench its thirst. A deer finally came, Richard was second to lift his riffle, his elder brother, Gus was first but was asked to put away by Pa. Richard then deliberately missed the shot on the deer, despite having it in point-blank. However, after sending off Gus back to the cabin to pack-up, Pa knew Richard missed the shot on purpose and asked why did he do so, despite Richard could kill rabbits before. The young boy admitted he did not like killing animals. After a long thought, Pa finally told Richard he need not come hunting with him anymore. Both Pa, and Richard were sorry for their actions, Pa: in making Richard do something he does not enjoy; and Richard: in disappointing his father that he does not want to kill anymore. Back in the cabin, Gus lectured the young boy. Gus was popular at school and an athlete. However, Richard was not. Richard’s excuse for not being active in sports was that he had to maintain the family farm.

Gus’ then spoke about his first deer-kill, and that he killed the buck way younger than 15. It should be noted that despite Gus wanting to make a trophy out of the kill, Pa disallowed it, with Richard even adding: “Pa says we don’t hunt for trophies.” Pa then arrived at the cabin, and the two boys left the cabin, into the woods, and on to a trail. Gus was then talking about his favourite topic, about the war and that he was really interested in joining the fight against the Germans. But Pa insisted Gus to finish school first before going anywhere. Pa also said that he did not finish school, but admitted that without education, it’s difficult to get anywhere. Richard however wondered why Gus wanted to get involved in the war.

The same day after supper, the two boys and Pa sat around the living room. But it was Pa and Gus doing all the talking, they spoke about boxing. Having no interest in boxing, Richard sneakily left the living room for the kitchen, where he met his elder sister, Angie, washing the dishes. Richard gave a hand to her sister’s chores. Angie quit school when she reached eighth grade, and manned the farm and took over Ma’s chores ever since. Richard however realised how much Angie had to sacrifice for the family and thought Pa and Gus takes her effort for granted. Also, despite being the first to say that Pa was indeed a difficult man, Angie also justified that Pa does deserve some patience because he had lost two important family members in his life; his wife and his brother.

That evening, Richard went to his room he shared with Gus. He looked out of the window, relieved because Pa finally knew how he felt about killing animals. However, Richard was also confused why Pa had to kill animals, or why Pa was upset when Richard admitted cannot kill animals. Richard’s painful childhood memories resurfaced, and so as some poetry. He took out a paper and began to write a poem, which he then read it quietly to himself.

My crayons made it white and brown.
Nature made it shy.
God made it fleet of foot.
But Grandpa made it die.

Richard took out his wallet, took a key from it, unlocked a drawer and left his poem in it, along with 3 inches of his work. No one knew he wrote poetry, and Richard wanted to keep it that way. When no one was looking, he would throw his drafts into the fireplace so that it would be permanently gone.

Chapter 2 Synopsis – United States declares war on Germany


It was April, and with it came news that the United States had declared war on Germany. The two boys however, were happy because it was also Spring, and the journey to school need not be through knee-deep levels of snow anymore. Sometimes, Pa would even drive them to school.

Gus, a mediocre student, was more into sports and socialising than academics. Richard however, enjoyed excellent grades throughout school, but was not into sports nor socialising with people. His favourite classes were English and history.

One morning towards the end of April, Mrs Hansen, Richard’s English teacher, read a poem to the class.

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

Richard was mesmerised of the poetry. But not the other classmates. Abner Lewis, a troubled kid from class, claimed his dad said that poetry is for sissies. Mrs Hansen, in a serious tone, then said that the poet, Mr. Joyce Kilmer, has volunteered to be part of the army and rebutted Abner that sissies do not go fighting for his motherland. The English teacher also gave several other examples of famous poets being part of the war. She also added that many poets have also been bigger troublemakers than Abner, and that Christopher Marlowe got himself killed over a bill. Interested in more examples, Abner asks for more, but got shut down by the teacher, she said: “If I do, you might decide to be a poet. And we don’t want your father to think you’re a sissy, do we?” After class, Richard spoke to teacher about the poem, she said she could happily lend him the book. But when teacher left to talk to another student, Richard recorded the address of The New York Times’ editor’s office into his notebook.

Richard was about to leave school at the end of the day when he saw Hannah Schermer, a pretty, blue-eyed girl with blonde hair in the hallway. He noticed tears were running down her face. Hannah did not want to talk about it, hid her book, and walked away. However, Richard did manage to have a glimpse of what she was trying to hide, it was a book vandalised with words like ‘Dirty Hun.’

Outside school, Richard caught up with few other classmates. Blanche Freebold, a girl whose parents owned a grocery store, and the two troubled kids; Abner Lewis and his friend, Harry Carver. Richard revealed that someone did something nasty on Hannah’s book cover, but the response he got for unravelling. They actually justified that it was nothing wrong with the words ‘Dirty Hun’ because Hannah was indeed German, Richard left and headed home.

At home, Richard did his chores and farm work quickly, he went to his room, which he had to himself at that time, and read the book the teacher lent him. He found Kilmer’s poems to be simple and that it seemed to speak directly to Richard. He took out a pencil and a piece of paper and began to write…

Dear Mr. Kilmer,

            My name is Richard Knight, and I’m in the tenth grade. I live on a farm near Turtle Lake, Iowa. This morning, my English teacher read your poem “Trees” to us. I thought it was very fine. I borrowed your book from my teacher, and I’ve been reading your poems this afternoon. I like them all. I can tell that you are the kind of man who cares about all living things. I wish I could meet you.

            I also want to say that I think it is very brave of you to enlist in the Army. I admire you for being willing to fight for your country. I will pray for your safety.

Richard folded up the letter, and got it prepped for posting. He would drop it off at the post office before school the next day as he did not want anyone to know he wrote that letter. Richard also wondered if he would get a reply from Kilmer.

Chapter 3: War against Germany takes a toll on Hannah’s family


Mrs. Hansen revealed at class that something awful had happened at the tavern owned by the Schermers. The tavern was vandalised and Hannah was absent from school that day. The teacher brought a card to class so that the students could sign it and send it to the Schermers in the wake of the incident at the tavern. However, when the card went around class, no one really signed it, they were mostly against the Schermers because they were German and there was a war against Germany at that time. Few students wanted to sign the card, but the boys were worried of getting beaten up by Abner and Harry and the girls were worried that Peggy and Blanche, two very popular girls at school, would stop speaking to them. The card finally was returned to teacher, with only Richard’s name on it. Teacher was clearly angry with the class, she put the card on her desk and started with the lesson. After class, Richard approached teacher to have the card for himself so that he could deliver it to the Schermers. The teacher was happy to have at least one of her students with some courage and integrity, the teacher gave him the card. Richard heard awful comments and giggles behind him as word went around that he was the only signer of the card for the Schermers. Richard did not really bother about them.

Richard was heading home after school to only have Abner and Harry in his path. They ridiculed Richard for his courage back in class and shoved him in his chest. Richard finally took them both down and the boys begged for some mercy and promised to never disturb Richard ever again. Richard left them alone and made his way to the Schermers to deliver the card, but he stopped half way. Richard realised the card was empty and filled the card up with some content.

I just want to say that I’m awfully sorry about what happened. Please don’t judge our town by a few stupid hooligans. There are lots of people here who respect your family and would never do such a thing. I think you are fine citizens of Turtle Lake – and very fine Americans.

He finally got to the tavern and he was shocked with what he saw. Hannah was sitting on the front steps, Richard slowly approached and greeted her. She was not happy with Richard’s presence, nor the card, she just hoped none of this would have never happened in the first place. Richard then handed the card to her, and left the premises.

He was almost home when he stopped to climb an old oak tree overlooking the train tracks. A train would chug along around that time, and Richard was waiting for that. He wondered who the people were and where were they going to, or if one of them were responsible in writing those nasty words on the tavern. Nevertheless, after the train passed, he continued his journey home. With his home in sight, Angie was running out from it towards Richard, with a letter in her hand. The letter was from New York, Angie said.

Chapter 4 Synopsis: An Echo from New York


Richard got a reply from Joyce Kilmer. That day during dinner, Richard finally revealed to the family that he wrote poems and he got a letter from Mr. Kilmer. No one was interested about it. Richard excused himself from dinner and headed to his room. There, his brother, Gus, appeared and advised Richard to keep the fact he wrote poems to himself and not let anyone else know about it. Gus also added that people in school were starting to call Richard a Hun Lover for signing the card. Gus hopes the boy would change and try to fit in.

After classes the next day, Richard visited Mrs. Hansen at her classroom. He revealed to her that he got a reply from Mr. Kilmer and that he wrote poems. Richard wanted the teacher’s favour in picking the best of the best poem from his collection of the best poems to be sent to Mr. Kilmer. Mrs. Hansen finally picked a poem related to nature, since it was Mr. Kilmer’s cup of tea. The teacher also asked if Richard was willing to share his pieces and letters to the classroom. Richard however did not give a definitive reply, and thanked the teacher for her favour in picking the best poem, and left the class. Outside, Hannah awaited.

She apologised for being rude the other day at the tavern and she also knew about the whole card-signing fiasco at class. She said that people came to repaint the tavern and they promised to keep it from happening again. Also, Hannah said that the business at the tavern was great before the war, and that after the war broke, that changed. She also revealed that her brother, Otto, joined the American Expeditionary Forces to fight against the Germans, because he thought it was the right thing to do as being patriotic Americans, as he was born and bred here. The two students walked to the tavern, silently. At the tavern, Hannah thanked Richard and she entered her house, Richard made his way back home.

Just before home, he climbed up his vantage point on the oak tree to watch the train pass. The train finally appeared, but its occupants were not “normal,” they were dressed in khaki uniforms, all readied up for war. However, Richard found it strange to see the soldiers laughing and smiling. Some even waved towards Richard. He now found the war to be closer to home than ever, and feared for Otto’s and Mr. Kilmer’s safety.

Chapter 5 Synopsis: School comes to an end.


Three weeks later, Richard shared his relationship with Mr. Kilmer and his poems to the class for the first time. He also read the latest reply from Mr. Kilmer to him, and that he wanted Richard to send another poem. Richard then proceeded to read the poem he intended to send with his reply to Mr. Kilmer. He read:

The train is full of soldiers
Going off to war.
The thunder of its wheels
Is like a cannon’s roar.

            I see the young men’s faces
As the train goes swiftly by.
I see that they are smiling,
Through some will surely die.

Peggy remembered her uncle, which was one of those trains chugging into war. Richard however thought the last line was reminding Mr. Kilmer of the dangers he already knew off, and he wanted to write a different ending. Hannah thought “although I wonder why?” to be the perfect ending to the poem. And so it was…

The train is full of soldiers
Going off to war.
The thunder of its wheels
Is like a cannon’s roar.

            I see the young men’s faces
As the train goes swiftly by.
I see that they are smiling,
Although I wonder why?

With the secret out, Richard felt better and relieved. As school was over, he spent his days working on the farm, he was good at it. However, Richard realised that he was different from his father and he could not get close to his father, he felt that there was some strange barrier in between them.

He finally received a reply from Mr. Kilmer a couple of weeks later. Mr. Kilmer admired Hannah’s suggestion, and Richard could not wait to see her to share the news. However, Richard was shy, so he swept the idea under a rug and waited for school to resume.

Chapter 6 synopsis: Best Essay to Perform in Play


Many letters were exchanged between Richard and Mr. Kilmer before school reopened. At school, Mrs. Hansen started her first English class with an important announcement. The class will be organising a patriotic programme to help sell Liberty Bonds to help fund the war. But the best part of it was that two students, a boy and a girl, will be chosen to perform Lady Liberty and the Doughboy. The two best essays will perform in the play. The students in class were already interested in acting in the play, but thought Hannah would never be chosen despite she was smart and had the looks but because she is of German inheritance. The class was already at work completing the essay.

The next day, the teacher announced the winners, Hannah and Richard. They both went in front of class to read their essays, individually. Richard’s essay was applauded. When it was Hannah’s turn to read her essay, angry murmurs reverberated through class. However, when she was finished with her essay, Richard was the only one to have chapped for her.

Chapter 7 Synopsis: Richard and Hannah’s dilemma


Richard and Hannah were the teacher’s first choice to play Lady Liberty and Doughboy, but the others at school were not happy with the teacher’s choice. Everyone in school spoke about Mrs. Hansen’s choice for Lady Liberty and frowny-faced parents visited the principal’s office.

Back in class, Mrs. Hansen was upset. She announced that Hannah had turned down the offer and several students in class smiled. Despite winning the competition fair and square, Hannah decided to let it go. The next day, the teacher announced that Richard too was turning down his role. There were now two vacant spots, so after examining the essays again, Mrs. Hansen picked Millie Wright and Herbie Wycinski to replace Hannah and Richard. Gus however was not happy with Richard’s actions at school, and that people are calling him a traitor.

Hannah had invited Richard to her home. So after school the next day, the two students walked to the Schermer’s for supper. This was the first time Richard met the Schermer’s. At home, Richard came across books that had German titles and authors, and some very familiar authors like Shakespere. Soon after, Richard and the Schermer’s were talking about their favourite poets. Richard also noticed that they were rationing their meat like other patriotic Americans. After supper, the Schermer’s played some music through the gramophone.

After the wonderful supper, Richard bid goodbye and left for home. It was already dark when Richard reached home. His father was outside, he wanted to talk to Richard.

Chapter 8: “… they’re not our people,” Pa tells Richard.


Abner’s father, Ike Lewis told Pa about Richard turning down his role as Doughboy in the school’s play and Lewis alleged that Richard was downright unpatriotic. Richard tries his best to pursue Pa that the Schermers are just as patriotic as the other people in Turtle Lake, but Pa says otherwise. Pa knows Richard is getting too old to be advised, but wants Richard to just fit in like the rest. Just before entering the house, Pa said that Richard’s love for poetry and composing them may have given him foolish ideas.

At school, malicious comments about Richard continued surfacing. However, the relationship between Richard and Hannah grew closer through time, so did Richard’s relationship with the Schermers. Richard felt that the Schermers understood Richard better, his dreams and his interests. Richard exchanged many letters with Mr. Kilmer during this period, he would share his letters with the Schermers too. The Schermers also sent cookies and a scarf to Mr. Kilmer to alleviate his feelings, as times were tough for him. Mr. Kilmer is now a Sergeant.

Richard and Hannah go on a date at the end of schooling session. Hannah shared her time in New York with Richard. Richard then brought Hannah to an oak tree, the carving tree, as the locals called it. Richard carved his and Hannah’s initials on the tree. While under the oak tree, a stray stone had hit Hannah on her ankle which had the word “Hun.”

Chapter 9 synopsis: Gus to war, Kilmer to history.


Richard helped Pa at the barn. Gus announced that he was chosen for the army and he was off for training the next day. Pa however was disappointed, and angry with Gus’ choice to enlist for the war. Richard tried reasoning with Gus that Pa did not mean what he said and that he was worried of Gus’ safety. Pa did not want to lose Gus. The next day, Gus was off for military training.

Richard also received a reply from Mr. Kilmer, and it was one of the longest letter from Mr. Kilmer. Richard penned his reply and was off the post office to send it, he wanted Hannah to be his company while to the post office. At Hannah’s doorstep, she disclosed that Sgt. Joyce Kilmer is dead, Sgt. Kilmer is now history.

Chapter 10 Synopsis: Richard’s poem to late Kilmer unlocks Pa.


The Schermers invited Richard to their home and passed the newspaper to him. In the front page, the passing of Sergeant Joyce Kilmer occupied the middle, and his famous poem, Trees, was also published alongside it. This was Richard’s first time to have seen Mr. Kilmer’s face, and it was only after his passing. Richard was then aware of the letter he intended to send to Mr. Kilmer, with the receiver no more, Richard hastily thanks the Schermers and left. He ran and ran, along the road leading away from town, to his favourite oak tree. He climbed it, looked around for anyone watching him, and broke into tears. On the oak tree, he vowed to never write poems ever again, but it was that very moment, he penned another poem. Richard felt satisfied with his piece, and he wanted to share it with someone. What better person will that be than the Schermers! Mr. Schermer suggested Richard should publish his poem, and that The Turtle Lake Weekly might publish it. Mr. Schermer said that the town needs to read Richard’s poem. He added that his poem will be really meaningful to the parents of those lost souls as a result of war, and as well as those whose children have left for war. But Richard did not like that idea, especially if Pa reads it on the local newspaper and thought Pa would go crazy if the whole town knew of his poetry writing.

Hannah walked Richard to the newspaper office. Richard was panicked, he did not say much. His poem was passed to Mr. Garrison, the sole employee and boss of the newspaper office, and the two kids left soon after.

Richard worked at the farm along with Pa, with the usual silence. He can only hope Mr. Garrison would not publish his poem. The day finally came, it was a Tuesday, Richard bought himself a copy. His poem was not present on the frontpage, but there it was in the middle of a page inside, with his name: Richard Knight. He went back to the farm to help Pa, despite wanting to tell Pa about it many times during the day, he just could not tell about the poem to Pa. Pa finally knows that Mr. Kilmer was dead, Richard made a beeline to his bedroom and did not want to be anywhere near Pa when he read his poem.

Pa was at Richard’s bedroom, his newspaper flipped to page 3 (the page Richard’s poem had been published). Pa sat across Richard, and spoke about his brother, Roland. Roland was sent to Cuba when he enlisted himself for the war against Spain. He was the only one to have died in Cuba too. Big American newspapers wrote that American casualties were slight but Pa said otherwise, Pa said that his brother’s death was not a slight casualty. Pa broke into tears, and with great effort, Pa asked Richard about how he knew those words Pa said when Pa saw his brother being lowered into his grave.

The war against the Germans ended at the end in Mid-November, the Allies were victorious. Pa was laughing when he thought of Gus, he had time to serve before he could come back, and he was not going to serve in the war he wanted to. Richard’s poem was a regular feature in the local newspaper. As Richard’s poem always surrounded farm life, he would always share it with Pa before submitting it for publication. The boy also found Pa’s suggestions and ideas as helpful as his poet, late Sgt. Kilmer. “That’s really good,” Pa would say with a smile.

Download your preferred synopsis below.

Chapter 1 Synopsis – Richard Knight’s first deer hunt

Chapter 2 Synopsis – US declares war on Germany

Chapter 3 Synopsis – War against Germany takes a toll on Hannah’s Family

Chapter 4 Synopsis – An Echo from New York

Chapter 5 Synopsis – School comes to an end

Chapter 6 Synopsis – Best Essay to perform in play

Chapter 7 Synopsis – Richard and Hannah’s Dilemma

Chapter 8 Synopsis – “…they_re not our people,” Pa tells Richard

Chapter 9 Synopsis – Gus to war, Kilmer to history.

Chapter 10 Synopsis – Richard_s poem to late Kilmer unlocks Pa

I strongly suggest students read the full version of the story to get a better understand of it. It only takes an hour or so, and its a beautiful story that you will be really attached to. This above only serves as a reminding-tool of what you have read in the book, you would only understand the above if you fully read your book.

Character Traits.

Major Characters

Richard Knight

  • Kind-hearted
    • Richard approaches Hannah Schermer to make friends with and takes interest in her woes.
    • Richard signs and sends a card to the Schermers after an ordeal at their tavern.
  • Courageous
    • Richard signs the card to the Schermers despite threats from the other classmates, he also becomes the sole signer of the card.
    • Steps up against Harry and Abner and stays firm to his decisions.
    • To tell Pa that hunting was not his cup of tea and does not like doing it.
    • Pens a letter to Joyce Kilmer despite the odds.
    • To spend time and befriend Hannah, despite the hate towards her by the other people at school because of her German past.
    • To gracefully step-down in protest of all the fuss about picking Hannah as Lady Liberty despite she won the competition fair and square
  • Rational
    • See the Schermers like any other proud American instead of their German past.
  • Shy
    • Attempts to keep his collection of poems to himself and not letting anyone know about it.
    • Did not like the idea of giving his poem to Mr. Garrison to be published in the local newspaper
  • Talented
    • Writes poetry.
  • Hardworking
    • Helps Pa at the farm and helps Angie with the house-chores.

Hannah Schermer

  • Kind-hearted
    • Invites Richard for dinner at her place for what he has done and his understanding of her
  • Soft-spoken
    • Did not go against the other classmates or anyone else for the continuous harassment towards her and her family.
  • Courageous
    • Suggests Richard to edit a line in his poem despite knowing the hatred people have towards her.
    • To bring Richard to the newspaper office to get his poem published.


  • Hardworking
    • Mans the farm.
  • Soft spoken
    • Doesn’t talk much of his brother in the early parts of the story.
    • Quiets down once he realised one of his son was indeed going for military training.
  • Understanding
    • Finally understands the reason why Richard writes poetry after he came across a poem meant for late Sgt. Kilmer by his son. (it was this very poem which reminded Pa of his brother)
    • Allows Richard to have his own judgements despite softly advising him to fit in but does not force Richard to change.

Mrs. Hansen

  • Well-read
    • Gives insights of the war between the Allies and the Germans, especially important events.
    • Introduces the class to a poem by Joyce Kilmer (Trees) and that he was off to war.
  • Patriotic
    • Organised a play to collect funds for the war.
  • Fair
    • Organised a competition and two winners will be chosen to play Lady Liberty and Doughboy.
    • Selected Richard and Hannah from the competition to play the two characters at the play despite knowing many are going to be furious that Hannah was given an opportunity.
  • Understanding
    • She does not force Richard to sharing his relationship with Mr. Kilmer at class.


  • Patriotic
    • Signs up for military training for the war.
  • Sportsman
    • Active in football and sports in general at school.
  • Stereotype
    • Does not support Richard’s stance towards the Schermers and insists that Richard should just fit in. 
  • Irresponsible
    • Avoids house chores and doesn’t help Angie.
    • Avoids helping Pa man the farm.

Joyce Kilmer

  • Patriotic
    • Signs up for military training for the war.
    • Dies for his country while defending it.
  • Understanding & supportive
    • Understands the reason behind Richard’s composing of poetry and supports him to continue doing so.

Minor / Supporting Characters

  • Abner Lewis
    • A troubled kid in class
    • Friends with Harry
  • Harry Carver
    • Another troubled kid in class.
    • Friends with Abner.
  • Blanche Freebold
    • A classmate
  • Angie
    • Richard’s sister
  • Peggy Mason
    • Blanche’s best friend.
  • Herbie Wycinski
    • A good kid in class.
    • Was replacement for Doughboy after Richard stood-down.
  • Millie Wright
    • A good kid in class.
    • Was replacement for Lady Liberty after Hannah stood-down.

  1. Stereotyping can hurt relationships
    • One should not stereotype someone just because of his or her past. In this story, elements of racism and stereotyping towards the Germans deteriorated friendly-ties the people once had for the Schermers. Hannah Schermer was also bullied at school. In one incident, her book was scribbled with the word “Hun.” However, it should be noted that the Schermers are just like any proud American and they were indeed patriotic Americans. When war broke out between the Germans and The Allies, Otto, Hannah’s elder brother, enlisted himself. Richard however understood the Schermers and that they were no “traitors” but it was difficult for him to explain to his friends and even to his own father, that the Schermers were just like any other proud American.
  2. Love
    • Based on the novel “Dear My. Kilmer” by Anne Schraff, I found the theme “love” close to my heart. Firstly, Pa, Richard Knight’s dad, was close to his children. He brought and taught them hunting, which was also part of their family tradition. This clearly demonstrates the strong bond between the dad and his children. Then there was Gus, Richard’s elder brother who wanted Richard to lead a normal life, especially at school. This demonstrates the bond between the brothers. Also, Richard helps out Angie, his little sister, with the dishes. This also shows that the children are all close together. Moving on, there is Hannah Schemer, a pretty German native who migrated to the United States with her family. Richard accepted her as a friend despite hearing stereotypical views about their German background. Richard’s affection towards Hannah was visible when he first went to speak to her and comforted her when her book and family tavern was vandalised. Following on, Richard’s love for poetry has also moved me. Richard would often keep his poems under the radar, but Hannah knew a better place for one of his poems. Hannah wanted Richard to know that the poem he wrote for Mr. Kilmer was a classic and deserves some attention. It was Hannah who brought Richard to the editor to get his poem published. This indicates the strong bond of friendship among the two characters. In the end of the novel, Pa broke down when he read his son’s poem on the newspaper. Pa remembered of his brother who fought and gave his life in Cuba. This was also probably why Pa never agreed to let Gus go for the war because he could not afford to lose his son.

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