Thomas is a teenage solider on the Western Front during the WW1. Once idealistic and eager to join up, Thomas is broken by the trenches. He is taken by an older soldier to a local French house with a red lamp outside - the universal symbol for a brothel. There, he meets Marguerite. It has been arranged for them to spend an afternoon together - his first and only experience of what transpires between a man and a woman. Thomas is nervous, lost, but what Marguerite offers is not merely what she has been paid to do. She takes Thomas under her wing, lets him be both boy and man in her company, allows him to soothe his wounds and forget for just a while the storm that rages outside. With Marguerite, Thomas finds solace not only from the war but from the memories of his old life that haunt him. And more than that, a reminder of the presence of God; a presence he has lost in the noise, suffering and futility of the fight. Thomas leaves, able to meet his destiny - whatever that might be - whilst Marguerite must remain in her attic room, alone, trapped, forgotten.
I was inspired by the Old Testament story of Rahab when creating the story for Red Lamp and the way Rahab was interpreted as an epitome of faith and solace in times of strife by James in the New Testament (James 2:25). Her story - and its New Testament interpretation - is so potent in terms of the consolation that can be found in times of difficulty by those who carry faith in their hearts. The generosity and self-sacrifice of Rahab is mirrored in the characterisation of Marguerite, who symbolically offers herself as a sacrifice to cleanse the sins and the souls of young men held fierce in the grip of the horror of death, war and the murderous deeds that have - and will - commit. Rahab, like Marguerite, is an exemplification of the power of human connection and the significance of fleeting moments of sympathy between two lost souls amidst the devastation of a world torn apart; a connection that renews and consolidates our faith in others, the world around us and ourselves. As the walls of Jericho fell and the battle of the trenches rages on, Rahab and Marguerite become a light that will never fade.