Mathias' parents have just divorced. His mother is a factory brigade-leader and his father is a journalist. Since he is now eight years old, he really wants to spend more time with his father than circumstances allow. He is not amused by the "uncles" who stay overnight with his mother. He runs away during a free school hour to see his father, and finds him entertaining an "aunt," which he finds displeasing as well. Chastened, his father tells him the story of Daedalus and Icarus. At the same time, he promises the boy an airplane ride over Berlin on his birthday. When his birthday comes, his father is nowhere to be found, and Mathias searches everywhere. When he gets home, he finds that his father has sent him a model train set and has either forgotten or disregarded his promise -- for it is never mentioned. A new "uncle" comes into his life at this time, and Mathias realizes that he can't depend too much on others to do what is important to him.
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