Why does Rachel feel more connected to Aunt Loretta after Helen's visit?

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One day, Aunt Loretta's friend Helen comes round for tea. During tea, she makes a tactless remark, asking Loretta about her ex-husband, Nathan, whom Loretta left after she found out he was cheating on her. Helen immediately apologizes for raising such a delicate matter, but it's clear that she's inadvertently...

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One day, Aunt Loretta's friend Helen comes round for tea. During tea, she makes a tactless remark, asking Loretta about her ex-husband, Nathan, whom Loretta left after she found out he was cheating on her. Helen immediately apologizes for raising such a delicate matter, but it's clear that she's inadvertently dredged up some unhappy memories for Loretta.

When Helen leaves, Rachel notices that Loretta appears uncharacteristically quiet and withdrawn. There's no sign of the smiling Aunt Loretta that she knows and loves. It's then that Rachel feels a deeper connection to Loretta. She recognizes in her a kindred spirit, someone who, like her, has "middle layers"; that is, hidden depths that belie her cheerful exterior. Rachel can identify with this because, in being the new girl at school, she's had to hide her true self beneath her complex bi-racial identity.

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