The Aftermath
Rhidian Brook

by

Sharon Fleming

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Chapter 3
Summary

The chapter starts with Lewis and the rest of the British waiting at Hamburg’s Dammtor Station eager to welcome their loved ones. For the past seventeen months, Lewis had only pictured Racheal in his imagination and by looking at a snapshot, which he carried in his wallet. For seventeen months, the war had separated Lewis from his wife making him unable to feel her flesh or smell her breath (Brook 36). As Lewis was waiting for his family, he saw two men coming up towards him. One of the men was Captain Wilkins whose adoration and love for his wife was obvious. Lewis states that unlike Racheal and him who rarely demonstrated their affection in public, Wilkins' love for his wife, whom he unashamedly referred to as his ‘petal’, was worth admiring. The man accompanying Wilkins was Major Burnham who served in the Intelligence Branch. Although the encounter with Major Burnham was brief, Lewis could already sense the tension between them. It was evident that both Lewis and Burnham differed with regard to how they viewed Germans, including how they ought to treat Germans.

Upon stepping from the train, Racheal could see reuniting couples embracing each other. This made her contemplate how her encounter with Lewis would be. For a few seconds, Racheal could not hold back the intensifying erotic feelings, when she saw Lewis at a distance. However, when Racheal realized that Lewis had seen her, the feeling faded away. Both Lewis and Edmund were happy to see each other. Lewis could not believe how Edmund had grown. After a short while, Lewis decided to take his family to Hamburg’s grandest hotel, the Atlantic, with the aim of breaking the difficult news to Racheal about Lewis’s decision to share the house with Germans. Racheal did not provide an enthusiastic response but instead, she asked, "We will live with them" (Brook 45).  Although Lewis knew that it would be difficult to make Racheal see his reason and, yearning for forgiveness, Lewis knew he had to try all he could. This included driving both Edmund and Racheal through Hamburg so that “Frau und Sohn might understand the situation better" (Brook 47). Once they arrived at their new home, Racheal could not find herself acknowledging the fact that she would live under the same roof with Lubert and his German household. After a brief tour of the house, Lewis tucked in Edmund and retired to bed himself.

Lubert woke from a terrible nightmare about his life before the war. It was evident that he longed for his late wife whom he not only loved but also adored. He could not believe that he was in his house but he was no longer its master. Across the lit lawn, Lewis and Racheal were still disagreeing about the decision of living under one roof with the Germans. Rachael could not understand why Lewis wanted her to pretend they were friends. Losing Michael to the stray bomb always prompted her to think that Germans were responsible, and hence deserved to be hated and treated like nobodies. The chapter ends with Lewis trying to convince Racheal that, like the British, the Germans have also been crushed and, thus, they need to see them as humans and people in need of compassion.

Analysis

The author seems to be describing the level of hatred existing between the British and the Germans. Brook also reveals to the readers the impact of the war in regards to family separation and children growing up without the presence of their parents. From the chapter, it is evident that neither the Germans nor the British want to interact with others. Apparently, the British look down on Germans with contempt and blame them for the war. On the other hand, the Germans view the British as invaders in their land and snatchers of their property. Although it is true that Germans started the war, Lewis also indicates that the British should stop treating Germans as subhuman. Instead, Lewis states that the British should understand that they [Germans] too were not only crushed but also lost their properties and loved ones. The chapter marks Lewis' journey to rebuild not only Hamburg but also the relationship between the British and Germans. Racheal's refusal to accept living under the same roof with Luberts is an indication of the challenges likely to face Lewis in his attempt to unite both nations.

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