The Aftermath
Rhidian Brook

by

Sharon Fleming

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Chapter 4
Summary

Frieda is getting dressed for school. She had no uniform and thus she chose to put her “Mädel parade skirt, white blouse, and her gymnasium pumps" with the aim of provoking the authorities. She also intends to invoke her father who, she blamed for allowing British to requisite their house without a fight (Brook 58). Frieda saw herself as an outcast, cast out of her home’s comforts and cast out into the devastated world where she had to learn to survive. On her way to school Frieda passes several women going into the city to work through heaps of debris and brickworks for a loaf of bread, a bowl of soup, or some food vouchers. Although Frieda lacks nothing in her house, she would rather be with her fellow Germans than live under one roof with Lewis and his family. As Frieda approaches the town hall, she sees that the town hall gates were closed and several children had gathered beneath a notice, which had been posted on the brick wall. The notice states that the school was closed and that children above the age of thirteen who were strong enough could help in clearing the rubble. Frieda opts to join the group rather than going back home. While working, a woman shouts “body” and everyone stops working and gathers at the site. The women had excavated two bodies, which appeared to be dead bodies of lovers. The site of the dead bodies made Frieda stand still. Her eyes become fixated at the dead bodies reminding her the “loss of her own mother whose body had never been found” (63).

The author brings the readers into another scene where Racheal is providing instructions to Heike, the house help. Although the house does not meet Racheal’s expectations, she tries to rearrange it to resemble at least a place she might actually want to live in. Everything in the house seems soulless and clinical. Her encounter with Lubert makes Racheal uneasy and she cuts their conversation short. Racheal reminds herself that Lubert is a German and British should never fraternize with Germans (Brook 66). To make sure that Lubert knew his place, Racheal informs him that she was uncomfortable with Lewis’ arrangement of sharing a house with them and thus “must have clear lines of demarcation” (Brook 67).

In another scene, Lewis is in his place of work, at the British headquarters office ready to interview prospect German interpreters. At the gate, German women, children, and men are lining up with the hope of finding a bed in one of the established camps for the displaced people. One year had passed by, and yet Britain had failed to meet the German’s most basic needs. Lewis cannot understand why the headquarters are fenced. Although the British keep on seeing the Germans as their enemies and worthless people full of malice and ill intention, Lewis feels that Germans have already conceded defeat and that the British are the ones taking too long to adjust (Brook 70).  Finally, Lewis conducts the interview and selects Ursula Paulus, a 28-year-old German to be his interpreter.

Analysis

In this chapter, the author seems to reveal to the readers the aftermath of war, which ends up bringing unintended consequences. Although Britain is ready to rebuild Hamburg, German, people like Frieda are yet to accept the reality and effects of war. Although she is a fifteen-year-old teenager, she refuses to accept that the British could colonize her nation in the name of rebuilding and most importantly displace her in her own home. The loss of her mother to war and her father's inability to fight back against the British makes Frieda opt to work in the rubble than spend time in her home. The effects of war are still evident in this chapter, for instance, women and children are still struggling to find something to eat. Moreover, dead bodies are still being excavated and children like Frieda who have suffered loss are made to relive the painful experience. Additionally, in this chapter, the British are still adamant on the fact that Germans are evil and therefore, prohibited from fraternizing with them. Apparently, British officers such as Captain Wilkins are made to read booklets such as “The German Character” with the aim of reacquainting themselves with dangerous elements in German personality. From this chapter, it is clear that the cold war existing between British and German is yet to end.

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