I have to say that I don’t like Helen very much.
We see that there is deceit from all parts. Rhoda had an affair with Matthew Baxter even when she knew Peter was alive. Peter also deceived Rhoda when he never said a word to her about Archie and Helen, and he did the same with Archie and Helen, justifying Rhoda’s absences. Then when Rhoda discovered Helen, both women kept the secret from Peter. I think that Peter also deceives Helen when he talks to Helen about Rhoda. And now Peter and Helen are deceiving Rhoda as they are starting a relationship which is clearly more than friendly.
I know that this exactly what Rhoda did with Matthew, but somehow I see in a different light. It was hard to be young and lonely, and even though Peter was a much harder time in the war as we see, it isn’t Rhoda’s fault that he went to fight and was captured. It is easy to say that Rhoda should have kept faithful, but here was a man in the flesh who she fell in love with. Now Helen is duplicitous in her ways as she keeps friendly to Rhoda when she really wants to steal her husband. We know that she feels guilty, but she should cut ties with Rhoda or stop encouraging Peter.
I’m not biased because I think that Peter is not very nice to Rhoda either. He keeps complaining that she doesn’t pay any attention to him, but when she talks to him he brushes her off abruptly. And from what we learn from Rhoda, he was depressed when he returned and I don’t think he showed the same kind of interest in Rhoda during their marriage as with Helen. If only he tried to talk to her!!! I still wonder if somehow Peter knows about Matthew and that is why he is so cold and indifferent. Yet, that happened ten years ago, and if he knew, then why did he marry her? Or why didn’t he confront her? I wonder if Peter loves Rhoda. I am also intrigued about Matthew. Rhoda says she lost him, but the war was almost over when they started their affair. They were a nice couple even though I felt bad for Peter. The contrast between what Rhoda was living and Peter’s experiences is really harsh, and I feel sorry for him, but Rhoda couldn’t help falling in love. Matthew even asked her to marry him, and she accepted, but she told him she couldn’t bring his ring until she didn’t break it off with Peter. So what happened? Matthew had asthma. Did he die of an asthma attack?
The experiences of Peter during the war are horrible to say the least. After the prisoner camp, they were forced to march. The thing that got to Peter most was when he killed Harry. The man took a piece of bread from Archie, and then they started fighting. Peter hit him in the chin and Harry fell and broke his neck. Peter almost gave up, but Archie made him go on. Then on the way Peter fell and injured his ankle, and then as a miracle a woman (I have forgotten her name. Was it Annette?) and a little girl helped him and Archie, and they got in their cart, getting away from the line of prisoners. The German woman and the girl were fleeing to Dresden after her husband and son had been killed. They were together for days, and when they reached the station to catch a train, they were separated. The woman and the little girl managed to get on a train, but Archie and Peter couldn’t as they didn’t have papers. In the end, they managed to board a train as Archie had kept the woman’s case and they found the identity papers of Annette’s husband and son. Yet, the train didn’t reach their destination as they were bombarded by the allies, and when Archie and Peter get to Dresden, the city is a spread of dead, and they realize that Annette and her little girl are dead.
I imagine that all these terrible events have made Peter the way he is now, but it is sad that he can be more affectionate with Helen than with his own wife. Is it because Helen knows about his past and doesn’t have to pretend with her? But then why does he have to hide these things from Rhoda, the woman he supposedly loves or loved? I am not sure if when Peter returned loved Rhoda for real. I find his attitude depressing.