Past Encounters 3

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Rhoda keeps visiting Helen.

She learns that Archie and Peter were together in the war prison. Unlike Peter, Archie talked about the war all the time, and he even had a collection of memorabilia which Helen thinks he gathered for Peter as he wanted to write a book. The book wasn’t to be because Archie died. Helen is surprised as Rhoda seems genuinely interested in her husband’s collection whereas Peter has never taken much interest. Helen feels uneasy because Rhoda’s visits are carried out on the sly without Peter knowing about them, which is exactly what he has been doing for years. Rhoda promises that she has tried to talk to him and make him open up to her about the war, but Peter always brushes her off and ignores her. I feel there is little love between Rhoda and her husband, or at least, that is my impression. Peter is quite brusque and short with her, and I wonder how they reached this point. We know that during the war Rhoda met someone and fell in love with, but I got the impression that this Matthew died. I wonder if Peter knows about Matthew and that is why he is the way he is with Rhoda. In his memories of the war, he thinks of Rhoda often, so I wonder if he felt betrayed, which is natural, if he discovered that Rhoda had been seeing someone else. In that case, I wonder why they married. Was it because that was the right thing to do? Was their marriage always like we see it now, or was there passion and love before?

The flashbacks from the past show Peter befriending Archie when he is apprehended and sent to a prison camp. Archie is very young, only seventeen, and on the train ride to the camp in Poland he feels sick as he is claustrophobic and Peter helps him. Then they are sent to work in a mine. Archie, being feeble and spiritless, feels unable to cope and he smashes his hand with some hoppers, and he ends up losing a finger. Then one day Archie is not there anymore, and Peter fears what might have happened to him. Six months later they are moved from the mine to a field, and Peter finds Archie again.

Other men that Peter meets are wary of Archie. They think that Archie is not right in his head and don’t welcome his friendship as Archie does. I feel so sorry for these men, especially Archie, who seems lost and weak. We know that Peter and  Archie survive, but what they had to go through must have been terrible. Is this the reason why Peter never talks about it? And why did he keep Rhoda from knowing Archie and Helen? That is really strange, but I imagine he had his reasons.

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