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Atonement: Characters

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Terry Vo

on 27 September 2013

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Transcript of Atonement: Characters

Additional Quotes
"She told him she had cut herself off from her family. She would never speak to her parents, brother or sister again," (192).
Basic Character Description
by Sheridan Simpson, Tommy Tran, and Terry Vo

Additional Quotes
selfish, imaginative, wistful
orderly/perfectionist (writing)

"If I had the power to conjure them at my birthday celebration... Robbie and Cecilia, still alive, still in love, sitting side by side in the library, smiling at the Trials of Arabella? It's not impossible," (351).
Basic Character Description
very young/innocent for her age;
stuck in a fictional world that she created; unaware of reality/course of her actions
prone to tantrums; childish
"Perhaps he's spent a lifetime making amends. Or perhaps he just swept onward without a thought, to live the life that was always his," (337).

marries Lola but seems to ages much worse than her, as if she is sucking the life out of him...
loud, shows off,
believes/knows he is in a higher social class,
opportunistic (Amo chocolate)
ladies man:
uses cocktails, money, and chocolate to seduce (Lola)
Additional Quotes
"I thought there was a touch of the stage villain here, the gaunt figure, the black coat, the lurid lips. A cigarette holder, a lapdog tucked under one arm and she could have been Cruella De Vil," (338).
Basic Character Description

Additional Quotes

struggles/is aware of social classes between classmates/Tallis family and himself
enthusiastic, optimistic, clever/intelligent, ambitious, hopeful
studying to become a doctor
"There was a chance, just a chance, of getting back" (190) - Robbie wishing to go home
13 yrs old (part 1), 18/19 (part 3). 77 yrs old (part 4)
(Round or Flat?)
starts off as an innocent, stuck up child in her own imagination
Basic Character Description
Additional Quotes
(Round or flat?)
"As for Lola, my high-living, chain-smoking cousin, here she was, still as lean and fit as a racing dog, and still faithful," (337).
"I couldn't resist thinking about my encounter outside in the fundamental terms of health: I might outlive Paul Marshall, but Lola would certainly outlive me. The consequences of this are clear," (338).
"She spoke through a sigh of sadness or resignation. 'I'll suppose that because you're the one who wrote it, you'll be Arabella...'" (13).
rich (chocolate)
handsome, dark black hair, big-faced,
friend of Leon's from Cambridge/London
FLAT (for the most part):
(Round or Flat?)
(Round or Flat?)
(Round or Flat?)
manipulative, self-absorbed, opportunistic
15 yrs old (part 1)
21 yrs old (part 3)
79 (part 4)
"He was helped in first, and I saw then how frail he was. He couldn't bend at the waist, nor could he take his own weight on one foot. They had to lift him into his seat. The far door was held open for Lady Lola who folded herself in with a terrible agility," (338).
When considering the novel as a whole, Marshall is one of two antagonists (in Robbie's case).
He decides to let Briony ruin Robbie's/Cecilia's life and then he becomes the exact opposite of Robbie: successful, rich, powerful, famous, and very old.
restless, angry, passionate
pale, mole on thigh and back, strawberry mark on calf
"I love you. I'll wait for you. Come back," (201).

As a child, Lola was manipulative (Hermione), did anything she could to get attention, and yearned to be an adult
young, optimistic, excited for his life to come; indecisive (in terms of career); ready to become someone, ready to love Cecilia

Protagonist/main character in part 1, 3, and 4
Antagonist in part 1,2, and 3:
the cause of Robbie's downfall
her false/childish accusations drastically changed and ruined Robbie's and Cecilia's life.
Creator of "Atonement"
narrates her redemption
attempts to fix mistake by imagining a "happy ending"
"Her daughter was always off and away in her mind, grappling with some unspoken, self-imposed problem, as though the war, self-evident world could be reinvented by a child," (65).
"The very complexity of her feelings confirmed Briony in her view that she was entering an arena of adult emotion and dissembling from which her writing was bound to benefit," (106).
"I mean, I've been seeing strangely, as if for the first time. Everything has looked different, too sharp, too real. Even my own hands looked different. At other times I seem to be watching events as if they happened long ago. And all day I've been furious with you, and with myself," (125).
"How like Hermione Lola was, to remain guiltless while others destroyed themselves at her prompting," (138).
"That his protégé should turn out to be a maniac! Lola's word stirred the dust of other words around it, man, mad, ax, attack, accuse, and confirmed the diagnosis," (148).

23 years old in part 1
28 years old in part 3
24 years old in part 1
29 years old in part 3
88 years old in part 4
Handsome, big-faced, loud
Black hair that is in need of trimming...
"Robbie knew better than anyone how she loved her brother, how close she was to her family, and how much the house and the park meant to her," (196).

"'They turned on you, all of them, even my father. When they wrecked your life they wrecked mine. They choose to believe the evidence of a silly, hysterical little girl... I can never forgive what they did,'" (196).
"She was the sort of girl who lived in her thoughts," (219).
Part 4:
seems defeated by Lola; lady's man in the beginning to seemingly being conquered by Lola (above modest but with a bad family reputation) Was it blackmail?
defeat ages Marshall but he is able to rise above his peers (financially/society-wise)
Part 1:
starts off as an easy going and ambitious man who is willing to lie and cheat to get by (Robbie situation); starts and ends as an extremely successful man who didn't have to fight his way to the top
matures/loses innocence - understands people's perspectives while nursing as a young woman; by the end of novel, she is aware of how her actions fully affected others...
loved and appreciated her family/stayed at home with her family (instead of college) in order to feel needed
her evident love for Robbie (parts 2 & 3) changes her feelings for her own family and outlook on life
(Round or Flat?)
"...it was confusion and misunderstanding...it was the failure to grasp the simple truth that other people are as real as you. And only in a story could you enter these different minds and show how they had an equal value," (38).
"long, narrow face, the small mouth, if he had ever thought about her at all, he might have said she was a little horsey in appearance," (74).
"wild flare to the nostrils and a full, glistening rosebud mouth" (74).
dark eyes
(Round or Flat?)
sacrifices her identity as a writer to become a nurse in order to make up for her mistakes - guilty soldier (sold soul for redemption)
"This narrowing, which was above all a stripping away of identity," (259).
"...she had no identity beyond her badge," (260).
"I'll wait for you was elemental. It was the reason he had survived. It was the ordinary way of saying she would refuse all other men. Only you. Come back" (249).
Becomes angry, desperate, and cold after the war; struggles with his anger and even threatens Briony
"The problem...There is no one, no entity or higher form that she can appeal to, or be reconciled with, or that can forgive her. There is nothing outside her. In her imagination she has set the limits and the terms. No atonement for God, or novelists, even if they are atheists. It was always an impossible task, and that was precisely the point. The attempt was all." (350-51)
"ginger-haired and freckled," (9).
pale, thin, bony
"green eyes and sharp bones in her face, and hollow cheeks," (10).
Consider the novel as a whole: Lola knowingly helps cause Robbie's downfall
Refuses to dispute Briony's accusations toward Robbie to save herself and Paul Marshall
Also changes Paul Marshall
manipulation and seduction used against Marshall
Lola prospers as an old woman, while Marshall suffers as if she sucked the life right out of him
dark hair, pale
As an adult, Lola basks in her husband's wealth and popularity and enjoys the good life while ignoring the fact she hurt others (Robbie and Cecilia) to get there
Protagonist in part 2
Protagonist to Briony's "Atonement"
sympathy for suffering (prison + war)
green-orange eyes
cleaning's lady son
23 (Part 1), 27-28 (Part 2-3)
Basic Character Description
"...intelligence and pure bulk" (24)
Uses everything to her advantage in order to gain all the possible attention
"And Lola, like her mother, would not be held back. As soon as the letter was read, she upstaged her runaway brothers with her own dramatic exit," (138).
Unsatisfied being in the transition between a child and a woman; believes she is "mature" 15 year old
"Now he saw that the girl was almost a young woman, poised and imperious, quite the little Pre-Raphaelite princess with her bangles and tresses, her painted nails and velvet choker," (57).
Additional Quotes
"Her wish for a harmonious, organized world denied her the reckless possibilities of wrongdoing. Mayhem and destruction were too chaotic for her tastes..." (5).
powerful/god-like demeanor (writing)
only the attempt matters.
seeks forgiveness by playing "god"
must be granted by the one who has been wronged

As a character in the novel Atonement, she is neither the protagonist nor the antagonist
In Briony's Atonement, Cecilia becomes the protagonist
Point of writing Atonement was to relive her guilt and give Robbie and Cecilia the happy ending they deserved
Briony's version is based around events that happened to Cecilia rather than herself
"From this new and intimate perspective, she learned a simple, obvious thing that she had always known, and everyone knew: that a person is, among all else, a material thing, easily torn, not easily mended" (287).
Mature for her age, very accomplished, and dedicated to her life/Robbie
Willing to work hard to reach goals
Strong/determined; unafraid to leave home and discovery new things
"Cecilia wrote every week. In love with her, willing himself to stay sane for her, he was naturally in love with her words," (191).
"Briony recognized the tone. Pure Nightingale, for use on difficult patients or tearful students. It took years to perfect Cecilia had surely been promoted to ward sister," (316).
I've never had a moment's doubt. I love you. I believe in you completely. You are my dearest one, my reason for life," (197).
"'I'll be quite honest with you. I'm torn between breaking your stupid neck here and taking you outside and throwing you down the stairs,'" (322).
witness of war (horrors)
nursing experience brings new light to pain and suffering
relates to tearing apart of Robbie and Cecilia's relationship (unable to be mended)
more guilt and need to fix
Part 2 (Day dreaming about Briony): "There was a grandeur about the day, about the colossal, barely stirring beeches and oaks, and the light that dropped like jewels through the fresh foliage to make pools among last year's dead leaves." (216).
is revealed to be the one to take advantage of Lola

Who do you believe changed the most by the end of the novel? Explain

Would you consider Briony a protagonist or antagonist? Why?
Discussion Q's
"Don't worry,' her sister resumed. 'I won't ever forgive you,'" (318).
describes Cecilia's overall devotion and feelings towards Robbie
final response showing Cecilia's bitterness and fury towards Briony
-possibility of Atonement for Briony
Full transcript