Atonement Theme Analysis

Topics: Social class, Working class, World War II Pages: 3 (1037 words) Published: October 2, 2013
“My darling one, you are young and lovely,
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). Briony Tallis 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 Arabella” that she writes and plans to perform in celebration of the return of her older brother Leon. This stanza was taken from Arabella’s father’s monologue as he explains to her right before she is about to leave with her lover that she is much too young to understand the world and is not ready for it. This play itself foreshadows for Briony’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 Briony to deliver the note to her older sister before dinner starts; however, this is the wrong letter. Naturally curious, Briony opens and reads the 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, Briony 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 Briony and the “attack” in the library leads her imagination to run wild and accuse him of the rape of Lola Quincey. From then on, the novel is about Briony 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...
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