The Aftermath
Rhidian Brook

by

Sharon Fleming

Themes
Themes are described as ideas that dominate a particular piece of literature. In almost all cases, pieces of literature will be centered a theme or a number of them.
Grief and Family Loss

The theme of grief and family loss appear throughout the book. Brook says that the booklet Edmund was reading stirred a reassuring and primitive emotion in Racheal (27). Racheal could not find solace in other people’s loss. The pain of losing a son was too much for her to understand other people’s sorrow. The thought of living in a country that killed her son is tormenting Racheal. Brook says that the “sobbing that came when she remembered Michael” shook her whole diaphragm (56). In addition, Frieda, who finds it hard to accept the British living in their home, also demonstrates the theme of grief. Both Lubert and Frieda had lost a loved one, Claudia. Lubert reveals that the memory of his wife was so vivid that he had no interest in being chosen or choosing any woman to replace her (Brook 53).

The theme of family loss is also evident throughout the novel. At first, Lubert and Frieda had to mourn the loss of Claudia whose body had not been found. Lewis had ordered Barker, his second in command, to gather all the information of missing persons. The ‘Missing Persons Register' puts emphasis on the theme of family loss (Brook 263). Lubert also informs that on his way to the clearance office, he passed by one of the remnant wall of the old art museum ‘Have-You-Seen-Wall” which was full of requests for information about missing loved ones (Brook 297).

Forgiveness and Kindness

The theme of forgiveness and kindness is developed throughout the book. Lewis’ new arrangement is based on kindness towards Lubert and forgiveness towards Germans (Brook 25). Although the Germans were responsible for Michael’s death, Lewis agreed to share the requisitioned home with Lubert. Despite most of the British people refraining from fraternizing with Germans, Lewis encourages his son to befriend them and even help the orphans (Brook 189).  Additionally, Racheal also demonstrates the theme of forgiveness by softening in her attitudes towards sharing the house with them. Although at first she refused to interact with them and associated Germans with evil, she later came to realize that not all Germans were evil and thus stopped giving them the cold shoulder. Despite Frieda betraying Lewis by supporting the die-hard Nazi ‘88' movement who almost killed him, he shows forgiveness and kindness by persuading Barnham to let her go (Brook 294). Instead of showing hatred and allowing Frieda to face the repercussion of her actions, Lewis chooses to forgive her and even takes Frieda to meet her mother whom she thought was dead.

Betrayal

The theme of betrayal is also evident in the book. Despite Lewis being willing to share the house with Lubert, Lubert ends up having a physical relationship with Lewis’ wife, Racheal. Moreover, Racheal also betrays Lewis by engaging in a sexual relationship with Lubert. The theme of betrayal is also evidenced through Frieda’s actions. Firstly, she steals Lewis ‘Restricted’ files and gives them to Albert (Brook 218). Secondly, she fails to inform Lewis about the ‘89’ movement and goes ahead and puts the mark on her forearm herself. Failure to respect Lewis and stay away from supporters of the Nazi Regime while living under the same roof of those whose focus and the main purpose is to promote peace is considered betrayal. Evidently, Lewis says, “I didn’t see the danger. But it was there. Right under my eyes. Right in my very house” (Brook 281). In this case, Lewis is referring to Frieda whose betrayal had contributed to Barker’s death.

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