Atonement Theme Analysis
But inexperienced, and though you think The world is at your feet, It can rise up and tread on you” (Part 1, Chapter 1, Page 16). Bryony Tallish is an ambitious thirteen-year-old girl who dreams of one day becoming a famous author. Her first work is a play titled “The Trials of Rubella” that she writes and plans to perform in celebration of the return of her older brother Leon.
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This stanza was taken from Rubella’s father’s monologue as he explains to her right before she is about to eave with her lover that she is much too young to understand the world and is not ready for it. This play itself foreshadows for Briton’s loss of innocence in the first part of the novel that begins when she witnesses the conflict between Robbie and Cecilia at the fountain and misconstrues it to be something else entirely. After breaking the valuable vase by determining to help Cecilia, Robbie decides to write an apology to her.
He asks Bryony to deliver the note to her older sister before dinner starts; however, this is the wrong letter. Naturally curious, Bryony opens and reads he letter and comes across a word she has never seen, but correctly assumes its meaning and declares that Robbie is a “sex maniac”. On the way to dinner, Bryony stops at the library because of a muffled thumping sound as is questioning as to what it might be. She walks in and sees what she believes to be Robbie “attacking” her sister.
The fountain incident coupled with the letter that Robbie accidentally sends to Cecilia through Bryony and the “attack” in the library leads her imagination to run wild and accuse him of the rape of Lola Quinces. From then on, the novel is bout Bryony trying to repent her crimes. This passage is appealing because it sums youthful naivety very nicely. Everyone at some point in his or her life grows up and loses the innocence he or she once had as a child. Especially during the teenage years are when we think we know what we are doing and that we are invincible, but in reality, we do not and are not.
During this time, we should ask for the advice of adults who have had experiences and valuable lessons to teach us even if we decide not to follow in their footsteps. “Watching him in the first several minutes of his livery, Cecilia felt a pleasant sinking sensation in her stomach as she contemplated how delicious self-destructive it would be, almost erotic, to be married to a man so nearly handsome, so hugely rich, so unfathomably stupid. ” (Part 1, Chapter 4, Page 47).
When Leon brings his friend Paul Marshall home, Cecilia greets the duo and then spends time with them outside by the poolside. It was during this time that Cecilia realizes that her brother’s new colleague is an egocentric aristocrat. During Marshal’s dialogue about his daily routine back in London, she daydreams about hat it would be like to get married and settle down with someone like him who will certainly live a lavish and carefree life. Another topic the book touches on is the injustices of social classes before and during the World War II era in England.
Emily Tallish, the matriarch of the family believes that it would be difficult for Cecilia to find a suitable husband since she was educated at Cambridge, an option many girls her age did not have. Generally, girls who were in Cilia’s class were educated at home, years, although Cecilia and Robbie, the maid’s son, went to Cambridge together, she id not speak to him due to the differences in their social classes. Cecilia was part of the aristocratic circle at Cambridge, while Robbie associated with the lower class students.
When the police arrive to investigate the rape, no one speculates the wealthy Marshall. On the other hand, despite the door boys father’s credible alibi, the police are still doubtful of his innocence. In the end, it was Robbie Turner that was arrested for the rape that Marshall commits. I relate to Cecilia in that we believe money is not everything and cannot buy happiness. I was very frustrated when I earned the two sisters did not reconcile and that Robbie and Cecilia did not have their happy ending.
Cecilia falls in love with Robbie Turner who belongs to the working class, whereas she belongs to the upper class; despite their different social classes, they manage to have a deep connection that Cilia’s parents do not have. “l like to think it was… A final act of kindness… To let my lovers live and to unite them at the end” (London, 1999, Page 350). Many years after the end of World War 2, Bryony achieves her dream of being an accomplished writer and is about to celebrate her airhead by returning to the Tallish estate now transformed into a hotel.
This quote is taken from her explanation as to why she reunites Robbie and Cecilia in her version of the story, so she could give them their happiness as an alternative ending to the story because she could not in real life. The majority of the story is about Bryony trying to atone for her crimes, hence the title. In her story, after attending the wedding of Lola Quinces and Paul Marshall, Bryony finds her sister’s residence and tries to apologize for what she did. However, in the end as she reflects back she did not in fact reconcile with her sister and Robbie.
For a hopeless romantic, this quote gives me hope knowing that in a special way, Robbie and Cecilia get their fairytale ending in the end. After reading the book, my friend persuaded me to watch the movie adaptation. Instead of returning to her childhood home to celebrate her birthday and achievements, the movie ends with Bryony coming on to a talk show to discuss her newest novel. In her monologue, she explains everything in a much more touching manner and does the ending Justice.