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(6th) Atonement: Relationships between Characters

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Susan Spengeman

on 10 October 2012

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Transcript of (6th) Atonement: Relationships between Characters

Atonement Briony Cecilia Leon Paul Hardman Lola Emily Tallis Cecilia to Leon (Part I, Ch1-7)

"Cecilia longed to take her brother aside and tell him that Mr. Marshall had pubic hair growing from his ears... Leon's attention was drawn by the motion, and in that instant she delivered the look he had not seen in more than ten years. He pursed his lips and turned away, and found something of interest to stare at near his shoe." (pg. 48)

This quote is describing how Cecilia is trying to grasp on her and Leon's relationship, which was once playful and close. Prior to this, the narrator brings up that when they were kids, having dinner with adults, they had their own codes and made funny faces. However, when Cecilia makes her sign now, Leon pretends to ignore her, showing that he has grown out and distanced himself from their intimate relationship.

-Jackie Briony to Robbie (Part I, Ch1-7)

"Robbie Turner, only the son of a humble cleaning lady and of no known father/had the boldness of ambition to ask for Cecilia's hand" (McEwan 36).

Briony, as usual is in her fantasy world interpreting events to fit her ideology, describes the scene between Robbie and Cecilia as that of one of a story that is coming to life as she watches. I feel that she sees Robbie as a lower individual in relationship to her sister. He is of humble background and Briony feels that due to his ambition he wants to marry Cecilia, who is of a higher status. This demonstrates that Briony sees Cecilia as superior and Robbie as inferior even though he has been part of the family his whole life. Robbie to Cecilia (Part I, Ch1-7)
"...but it was at this point that Robbie, wanting to make amends, tried to be helpful." page 27.

I feel like this quote highlights the relationship between Robbie and Cecilia because it shows that the two of them had obviously had a past, but he wanted to have a better future. Since he was ready to make amends, it seems like whatever happened between them, it wasn't bad enough to lose a childhood friend over. So overall, I think Robbie just wants his relationship with Cecilia, whatever kind that may be, to go back to how it was. Narrator to Briony (Part I, Ch1-7)

" Briony knew he had a point, This was precisely why she loved plays, or hers at least; everyone would adore her "(pg 9)

The narrator seems to view Briony as sort of a vain , outspoken and controlling person. Briony wants everything to be under her control and with her as the center of attention. At the age of 13 , she is both a child and adult , she sees herself on the top of the world, and during this transition, she wants to be included in everyone's business, wants her mother's affections for herself and her mother does not disappoint with that request. With this certain characteristic of Briony , i feel that it is going to get her into trouble as we go further into the book, where things might not seem like what they look like and Briony cannot help but get in to . -Pravalika Narrator to Paul (Part I, Ch1-7)

"...dropped away into a light sleep in which his young sisters had appeared, all four of them, standing around his bedside, prattling and touching and pulling at his clothes. He woke, hot across his chest and throat, uncomfortably aroused..." (p. 76)
The narrator shows that they feel slightly creeped out by Marshall. This is shown by several key phrases in the quote, which paints him in an incestual light. Some of these are, touching and pulling at his clothes, hot across the chest and throat, and uncomfortably aroused. The narrator may also be saying that Paul feels guilty about something involving his sisters, shown by the heat across his chest and throat, like the heat one feels when they are embarrassed about something wrong they have done. -Nate Briony to Lola (Part I, Ch1-7)

"This was Lola, and though she wimpered for mercy, the singing arc of a three-foot switch cut her down at the knees and sent her worthless torso flying" pg 70

When Lola is first introduced, i think that Briony feels a sense of jealousy towards her because she looks and acts more grown up and also seems to be able to control her surroundings to best suit herself, which is what Briony is trying to do. Although as rehearsals for the play continue, these characteristics seem to become the ones that Briony ends up resenting most. She is unhappy when Lola takes the lead role in the play and also starts to act like the director. This quote shows that with all of the events leading up to chapter 7, Briony is not fond of Lola and sees her as controlling and insensitive to Briony's feelings. -Katie Robbie to Briony (Part I, Ch1-7)

"They had known each other since they were seven, she and Robbie, and it bothered her that they were awkward when they talked." (pg. 21)

How Robbie feels towards Briony is not made clear in the first seven chapters, but based on this quote the reader knows that Robbie has been with the Tallis family for a long time, and so is pretty much a part of the family. This allows the reader to infer that Robbie and Briony have some form of a relationship. My guess is that Robbie has more of a formal, yet still friendly, relationship with Briony, probably because of the age difference. I think he most likely sees her mainly as Cecilia's little sister. -Ashley How does the narrator view the characters? Leon to Cecilia (Part I, Ch1-7)

"Mostly, the power was with Leon, whose look was mock-solemn, and consisted of drawing the corners of his mouth downward while rolling his eyes."
This quote showed that Leon felt powerful towards Cecilia. As an older brother, he felt that watching over Cecilia was his responsibility, and he still felt that she was an annoying younger sibling. The relationship they share is a typical older brother-younger sister relationship. -Rahul How do the characters view each other? Narrator to Robbie

"And there was Robbie, who exasperated her with his affectation of distance, and his grand plans which he would only discuss with her father." pg. 21

The narrator characterizes Robbie as being a somewhat reserved, likable person, whom the main character Cecilia has a relationship with. Even from this simple quote, Robbie, who has an "affectation of distance" and is a bit particular about the people his life is shared with, comes across as a reticent, soft-spoken character. However, the sentence is skillfully crafted as to also reveal a relationship with the Tallises, as he apparently has contact with the father, Jack Tallis. - Alex Robby Narrator to Lola (Part I, Ch1-7)

"'You'll be in this play, or you'll get a clout...'
'Why do we have to?' Everything was conceded in the question, and Lola tried to ruffle his sticky hair." (p.15)

The narrator appears to be less biased against Lola than Briony is. He or she shows the dialogue where Lola threatens her brothers, then reveals her true heart of trying to be strong for them in their uncomfortable situation. She tried to ruffle her brother's hair in a playful and comforting manner, but the key word in this quotation is "tried." She doesn't fit the role that her mother filled, and this lets the reader feel a little pity for the girl. -Emily Narrator to Cecilia (Part I, Ch1-7)

"Cecilia's enthusiasm, for example, seemed a little overstated, tainted with condescension perhaps, and intrusive too..." Pg. 7

I think that the narrator (Briony's perspective in this chapter) views Cecilia in a slightly negative way. Although it is later revealed that Cecilia is like a mother to Briony, I think she has trouble understanding this older figure in her life. Briony seems condescending, overstated, and intrusive at times, so I also view Briony as a younger version of Cecilia; however, I don't think either of them notices the similarities between them. - Leilani Paul to Lola (Part I, Ch1-7)

Quote: "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" p. 57

Paul Marshall originally saw Lola as a little girl, in line with her twin brothers, however as the conversation went on and Lola tried her best to appear grown up, he changes his mind. He sees her as more of a woman now, and the reader can infer that he has a crush on her, even though she's still a juvenile, and he's older. He sees her as someone high-class, or someone on his level, and describes her as a Pre-Raphaelite (a painter or writer from 1848 who pushed style and spirit of art), and describes her made-up self with a tone portraying that she looks mature, further supporting his "crush." -Laura S Paul to Cecilia (Part I, Ch1-7)

"Cecilia was aware that Paul Marshal was staring at her.."
Cecilia has Paul's attention as soon as he steps into the household. He tries to be polite by bowing and telling her that he's heard a lot about her. Then he goes on a "ten-minute monologue" about himself in order to impress her, but all Cecilia can think is that he is "unfathomably stupid." Nitasha Cecilia to Paul (Part I, Ch1-7)

“Watching him during the first several minutes of his delivery, Cecilia felt a pleasant sinking sensation in her stomach as she contemplated how deliciously self-destructive it would be, almost erotic, to be married to a man so nearly handsome, so hugely rich, so unfathomably stupid.”(pg.47)

Cecilia feels like an upper-class bride when it comes to Paul Marshall. She feels that she must be obligated in marrying him because of their status compatibility not their feelings. In the quote Cecilia examines Paul Marshall for his status and his ability as a suitor nothing more. -Bashir Cecilia to Hardman (Part I, Ch1-7)

"Danny Hardman was behind them with their luggage. Old Hardman was just in view outside, gazing mutely at the five-pound note in his hand...The roundness [Cecilia] remembered in his cheeks had gone, and the childish bow of his lips had become elongated and innocently cruel."

Cecilia feels as though Hardman and her son are strong workers. She doesn't see much emotion in the two but she looks to them with respect as she knows they do her. She recognizes their presence and she remembers things about Hardman's son. The line "gazing mutely at the five-pound note in his hand," shows that Cecilia feels he his neither ashamed nor completely proud of his work for the Tallis family. -Jessica Cecilia and Emily Tallis (Part I, Ch1-7)

Earlier within this frame of chapters, Cecilia directly states that she does not like her cousins. However, the most effective quote does not come from a Cecilia- concentrated section; the quote comes from Emily' s reciprocal thoughrs about Cecilia. "...all the self-adoring slumming, the knickers drying before the electric fire and two to a hairbrush-- made Emily Tallis a little cross..." though this does not share in Cecilia's point of view, in highlights the tension between the two characters. Cecilia assumes that Emily is conceeded and self- important in some ways while Emily thinks Cecilia lacks sophistication and tradition. - Laura H Briony to Leon (Part I, Ch1-7)

"There were moments in the summer dusk...little playlets in themselves, every one which featured Leon."

Briony wants leons attention and admiration becuase he lives in london far from her and she never gets to see him very often. So she doesn't want to miss out in his life and wants to be apart of it. Which is why she mention about finding a good wife for him, so she can be a bridemaid. Plus, she makes the plays for him so he can talk about her to his friends on how good of a writer she is. She is the typical little sister with leon. Wanting to hang out with the older sibling but still herself a child. -Gabriela Leon to Paul (Part I, Ch1-7)
"The smallest shift in her gaze brought her Leon's face, but he was staring politely at his friend and seemed determined not to meet her eye" (47)

Leon and Paul have a very good relationship being best friends. Leon brought Paul back from the city with him to meet his family. Although Leon and Paul remain good friends, Paul makes a name for himself on the down-low Narrator to Emily(Part I, Ch1-7) Narrator to Leon (Part I, Ch1-7) Narrator to Hardman (Part I, Ch1-7) Jack Tallis Emily to Jack (Part I, Ch8-14)
"It was eleven-thirty. But she did not mind, for he would be back at the weekend, and one day he would be home forever and not an unkind word would be spoken."

Emily's relationship with her husband is complicated. On one hand, she knows that he is probably sleeping with someone else, or at least hiding a large part of his life from her. But on the other hand, she seems perfectly okay with that. The fact that she feels so comfortable with her life, so fearful of change, that she would accept being wronged in this way, says a lot about her need for attention. She thinks it would be completely acceptable if, when he finally came home for good, the fact was completely ignored. They both know what he is doing, and she refuses to stand up for herself.
- Emily Emily to Cecila (Part I, Ch8-14) Emily to Robbie (Part II, Ch8-14) Emily to Briony (Part I, Ch8-14) Emily to Lola (Part I, Ch8-14

"How like Hermione Lola was, to remain guiltless while others destroyed themselves at her prompting." (pg 138)
Emily Tallis resents Lola because she is so much like her mother (Emily's sister), Hermione, who got all of the attention as a child. Emily sees Lola only as a histrionic, self-centered child. She doesn't like the way Lola exits so dramatically after the group discovers the twins had run away, and how she ruined Briony's play. Emily views Lola as a selfish girl who will do anything for attention, and who never seems to care about the feelings of others. -Ashley Cecilia to Robby (Part I, Ch1-7)

"When Leon told her he had invited Robbie to dinner she says, "Look, I think you ought to go round to the bungalow now and ask him not to come" (49).

When asked why, she responds in a stubbornly unclear way. She does not want to be around him because of their awkward relationship but is at the same time embarrassed by it and therefore acts stubbornly when the subject is brought up.

- Ryan Cecilia to Robbie (Part I, Ch8-14)
“She was afraid that there was nothing shared at all, that her assumptions were wrong and that with her words she had isolated herself further, and he would think she was a fool” pg.126

I believe this quote explains Cecilia’s pure love for Robbie. The fact that in this moment she was scared that he did not feel the same way or that he did not comprehend how she felt about him. Cecilia being this character with such a strong front is really stripped down in this quote. She no longer is the arrogant socialite she pretended to be throughout the whole first half of the book, but a regular, vulnerable human being. -Audrey Cecilia to Briony (Part I, Ch8-14)

"Shut up, for goodness' sake! You really are a tiresome little prima donna." page 131.
I feel like this quote best describes how Cecilia feels towards Briony because it shows this drastic change in their relationship. In previous chapters, Cecilia was always trying to care for and protect Briony, but ever since Briony started to invade other people's lives, Cecilia has become more irritated with her little sister. Reading the note from Robbie, I feel, was the last straw for Cecilia and finally, at the family dinner, all the frustration Cecilia had felt towards her sister was released. - Michelle Cecilia to Danny (Part I, Ch8-14)

"Cecilia's repeated suggestion that it was Danny Hardman they should be talking to was heard in silence." (pg.170)

What had happened just prior to this quote was Briony's "testimony", saying that the mysterious man who had attacked Lola in the woods, was actually Robbie Turner. Cecilia only said that they should direct their attention to Hardman, whom she feels a distrust for, since he is always looking at the girls quietly in the background. This quote clearly shows how Cecilia has finally been vocal about how uncomfortable and watched she feels by Hardman. -Jackie Briony to Robbie (Part I, Ch8-14)

“Something irreducibly human, or male, threatened the order of their household, and Briony knew that unless she helped her sister, they would all suffer.”(P.107)
Briony feels very aggravated with Robbie at this point. The note is read literally by Briony and her ignorance and misunderstanding makes her protective of her family. She acts as the protector in her house and feels that Robbie is a growing threat to her so-called “balance.” - Bashir Briony to Cecilia

"Briony stared at her, amazed. Attacked, betrayed, by the one she only longed to protect." (131)

Briony, in her ridiculous 13-year-old mind, believes that it is her duty to "protect" Cecilia. She feels that she needs to be in control of her sister's life, although she does not understand what is actually going on around her and refuses to act. Although Briony makes horrid mistakes and assumptions, what she really wants is to look out for her sister and make sure she is being treated well. - Taylor Briony to Lola (Part I, Ch8-14) Robbie to Cecilia

" That 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. Now he saw it was a strange beauty-something carved and still about the face, especially around that inclined planes of her cheekbones, with a wild flare to the nostrils, and a full, glistening rosebud mouth." (pg 74, ch.8).
Robbie has finally understood and accepted his feelings toward Cecilia. He is in love with her and the accident at the fountain is what had triggered his change of heart , even though his feelings might have been there since the beginning. Robbie sees Cecilia as someone he can talk to and argue with because Cecilia is not someone who backs down easily ,("But he loved her fury too " pg75). He is willing to do whatever he needs to make Cecilia his , and her flaws are what Robbie thinks , makes Cecilia much more unique and perfect for him. -Pravallika Robbie to Briony

"In that shrinking moment he discovered that he had never hated anyone until now" pg. 130
Aside from a few encounters when they were both younger, Robbie doesn't really have any sort of relationship with Briony. However, in the midst of Briony's increasing dislike of Robbie, Robbie also displays dislike for Briony during a brief scene. When Briony walks into the library and ultimately spoils Robbie and Cecilia's moment, Robbie "had never hated anyone until now." Despite being largely ambiguous, Robbie's slight feeling of hatred for Briony does in fact predispose a very negative, tumultuous relationship between the two characters. - Alex Narrator to Briony (Part I, Ch8-14)
"Within the half hour Briony would commit her crime." (page 146)

I feel the narrator is judging Briony because if Briony had all the right facts and the sequence of events, when she told about it it wouldn't be a "crime." It would be the right thing to do, to accuse the person responsible for committing a real crime. However, since the narrator knows that Briony is trying to fit Robbie into the puzzle she has created, she is the one committing a crime that will hunt her until the end of her days. - Laura Herrera Narrator to Lola (Part I, Ch8-14)

"Briony was on her knees, trying to put her arms around Lola and gather her to her, but the body was bony and unyielding, wrapped tight about itself like a seashell. A winkle." -- Pg. 155
(A winkle is a small sea creature with a shell)
The narrator, with the voice of Briony, wants the reader to pity Lola (in contrast to the beginning of the story, in which the narrator, also in the voice of Briony, is aggrivated with Lola). I chose to highlight the part of the quote, "my body", because it illustrates the idea that Lola has lost her childhood, and no longer feels as if human. Lola is viewed as normal pre-teenager placed in an awful situation. The reader, through the narrator's opinions and explanations, relates to Lola. Even though she does not tell Briony that Robbie was not the rapist, we understand and accept this flaw because she has gone through such trauma. This quote uses imagery to symbolize her frailty and deprivation in such a horrifying situation -Laura Head Narrator to Emily (Part I, Ch8-14)

Quote: "While Emily lay in obscurity on the floor, in the shadow of a sofa, with a medical uncle applying an expert tourniquet, a dozen relatives worked to calm her sister." pg. 138
The narrator is portraying Emily as an ignored outsider who desperately wants someone to pay attention to her, yet she always falls into the shadows. The reader is supposed to pity Emily in Chapters 8-14, with her fake yet hopeful relationship with her husband, with the past memories of being outdone by her sister Hermione. Emily is always pushed into the background, and the narrator perhaps suggests that this is why Emily takes such an apathetic stance within the stance, believing no one will pay attention to her. This shows that the narrator does not necessarily dislike Emily's role in the house, but rather understands why she is the way she is, and pities her. -Laura S. Narrator to Jack (Part I, Ch8-14)

"[Jack] must care about her to fabricate so elaborately and over such a long stretch of time." p 139
The narrator shows that even though Jack is clearly cheating on his wife, somewhere deep down he is a nice, loving man who still cares about her. He is also shown as caring when he hears about the twins escaping, and he is the only one who thinks this is a big deal and takes action by calling the police. The only time the narrator does not show Jack as caring is when he/she states that "[Robbie] was a hobby for Jack." p 142. Though Jack loans money to Robbie, the word "hobby" shows that the narrator doesn't think that Jack is doing this because he loves Robbie. - Nitasha Narrator to Paul Marshall

"I saw it myself--had to break it up and pull them off of her. I have to say, I was surprised, little fellows like that. They went for her all right..." pg. 133
The narrator obviously does not want us to like paul marshall based on previous knowledge, but i think that this quote started to make me suspicious of him as a character and of his relationship with Lola. He is clearly stating that he was there when she was hurt, but i think that he is trying to cover up for himself so that no one can question him later. There isn't necessarily one quote that perfectly sums up the way the narrator feels about Paul, but this whole section definitely showed him in a negative light. I thought it was a little bit of foreshadowing and telling the readers to keep an eye on Paul in the rest of the story. -Katie
Narrator to Cecilia (Part I, Ch8-14)

"Cecilia might have been ten years older, but there really was something quite hopeless and helpless about her." Page 166
After Robbie was accused of raping Lola, Cecilia distances herself from everyone. Even though she could take out all of her anger on Briony, she chooses not to. Instead, a still positive, and slightly sympathetic attitude is cast by the narrator. She is shown to be quiet and reserved. The narrator views her with a sympathy for having to go through hearing about Robbie's accusations. The narrator feels pity for her, and does not blame her for feeling separated from her family. -Leilani Narrator to Leon (Part I, Ch8-14)

"Like the true hero he was, he came down the bank in several easy strides and without even asking what the trouble was, took Lola into his arms and picked her up as though she were a small child." -page 161
Throughout the novel, it could have been inferred that Leon was seen as a "heroic" kind of guy. The narrator thinks of Leon as a brave older brother who puts himself up to a test and beats it down. At several points, the narrator can be heard saying multiple positive things about Leon, such as the above quote about him being a hero. -Rahul
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