Study Guide

The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story Chapter 31

By Diane Ackerman

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Chapter 31

  • Allegedly, it's now 1944.
  • "Nothing had changed" (31.1).
  • R.I.P. Hamster, you don't count.
  • Even though we're told nothing had changed, we're then told that "most Guests has already left to join the army or escape" (31.4). Okay.
  • Jan and Antonina get word that the Polish Uprising could happen at any minute.
  • That minute is now, and Jan leaves to fight.
  • Antonina stays home, like Nicole Kidman in Cold Mountain, waiting for Jan to return.
  • "For twenty-three nights she forced herself to stay awake" (31.19).
  • Randy Gardner's 11-day record without sleep has nothing on that.
  • One day, a waking nightmare occurs.
  • Germans invade the house and pull guns on Antonina and her baby.
  • As punishment for the Uprising, Hitler has ordered his soldiers to kill Poles.
  • Antonina is about to become one of them.
  • First, the soldiers lead Ryś and his friends away and shoot them.
  • Antonina and the baby are next.
  • But Antonina uses her magic mind powers to say, "Calm down! Put the guns down!" (31.36).
  • Soon, the soldiers call back Ryś and his friends. They didn't shoot them, after all.
  • It was a joke.
  • Ha ha ha. Oh, Nazi humor.
  • Another day, soldiers arrive to loot the house.
  • But again, Antonina uses her magic mind powers to snap the leader out of it.
  • Antonina places her hand on the soldier's shoulder (say that five times fast) and says, "Not allowed! Your mother! Your wife! Your sister! Do you understand?" (31.52).
  • Like a dog whacked in the nose with a newspaper, the soldier stops stealing furniture. And he never pees on the carpet again.
  • Not only that—the solider also gives Antonina a ring that likely came from a dead Polish soldier.
  • Later, a German officer enters the house while Antonina is playing the piano. He asks her to play "the Star-Spangled Banner" of all things, and she complies. He sings along, and then he leaves. Weird.
  • The zoo should be renamed "Home of the Brave."

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