Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates Study Guide

Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates By Mary Mapes Dodge

Fifteen year old Hans Brinker and his younger sister Gretel Brinker live in Holland. Hans is poor, but honorable and industrious. The two desire greatly to participate in the great ice-skating race on the canal come December. They have only handmade wooden stakes on which to race, and they don't have much of a chance on such poor equipment, but the prize -- Silver Skates -- excites them so much that they dream of winning.

Hans' father, made an amnesiac by a fall off of a dike, cannot work. Mrs. Brinker and the kids must work to support the family. The community looks down on them because of their poverty.

Hand learns of a Doctor Boekman, a famous surgeon who might be able to treat their father -- but Doctor Boekman is expensive and hard to deal with because he recently lost his wife and son. Eventually, they persuade Dr. Boekman to examine Mr. Brinker. He diagnosis Mr. Brinker with 'pressure on the brain', which can be cured only by a risky and expensive operation.

Hans, who had saved money in the hope of buying steel skates, gives the money to Doctor Boekman instead. The doctor, who is deeply touched by Hans' loyalty to his father, performs the surgery free of charge. Hans buys the steel skates, and participates in the race, but he allows a friend who needs the money more to win first place and the Silver Skates.

Doctor Boekman is further impressed by Hans, and loses much of his gruff manner. Mr. Brinker is restored to health by the operation, and his memory returns. Mr. and Mrs. Brinker begin to restore their family from poverty, and Doctor Boekman helps Hans through medical school, whereupon he becomes a successful doctor himself.

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