Explore the ways that Susan Hill presents Hilliard’s character in Part 1 of Strange Meeting.
From the very beginning of the novel ‘Strange Meeting’, the character Susan Hill creates called John Hilliard is a soldier on sick leave in the First World War. “He is a man of few words” as he is described later in Part 1. Hilliard cannot express his feelings openly but has to have someone who he can trust greatly and feel safe with. He has sleeping difficulties throughout Part 1 caused by the fact that he does not want to be at his home in Hawton by the Sea. He has never had a relationship with his family, “He had been unhappy at home, where he could talk to no one, nobody knew”. He couldn’t relate his experiences of war with people who didn’t understand the true devastation of it, who thought that it was an easy done deal, that the British were going to win over the Germans, it would all be over by Christmas and blood wasn’t being spilt. The only person in his family he is close to and has a relationship with is his older sister Beth.
John Hilliard trusts and knows that his sister Beth will understand his disturbances from the war that are giving him constant nightmares. He depended on her to relate to him, because know one else did, but he wouldn’t let anybody else in to his inner circle, “Beth, Beth. He had always gone to Beth.” Baths support for John was shown in a memory of when the two of them were swimming in the sea one summer holiday. Beth helped John overcome his fear of swimming out of his depth even though she was petrified herself of swimming all the way out to the open sea. Often, when he was much younger, john had slept on Beths bedroom floor for comfort and reassurance whenever he was feeling unhappy or scared. This was why John felt obliged to talk to Beth in the middle of the night before he went back to his battalion the next day, to let out his emotions because he knew she would understand. She asked if he was afraid to go back. “She was like...
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