Schindler's List | Study Guide

Thomas Keneally

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Schindler's List | Chapter 9 | Summary



For Easter of 1941 Oskar Schindler visits relatives in Zwittau. He and his wife, Emilie, are uncertain whether she should join him in Cracow. Schindler visits a café, where he reminisces with old friends about their youth. When his friends ask why he isn't in uniform, he tells them he is exempt because he runs a factory classified as "essential industry." Schindler's estranged father happens to be at the same café, and his friends encourage a reunion between Schindler and his father. Schindler is reluctant, but his father is in poor health, and so he puts aside his pride and embraces his father.


For years, there has been bad blood between Schindler and his father. He could not forgive the old man for leaving his mother nor for his failure as a businessman (the elder Schindler ran a farm-machine business that went bankrupt). For his part, Schindler's father disapproved of the marriage between Oskar and Emilie because it reminded him of his own unhappy marriage to Schindler's mother. As a businessman, Schindler has been motivated by his desire to succeed where his father failed. By the early 1940s Schindler has indeed achieved a success in business that surpasses his father's. His marriage, however, seems to be no happier than his father's was—a fact Schindler prefers to avoid contemplating.

It is not until their chance meeting in the Zwittau café that Schindler finally realizes he is like his father in many ways. Seeing his father's facial expression, Schindler experiences the shock of recognition; he has just recently worn the same expression on his own face. Schindler perceives his father's fragility, and he feels compassion. Father and son participate in a tearful embrace, putting aside their egos for the sake of reconciliation.

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