themes in atonement

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themes: guilt and atonement

-Briony cannot take the full guilt of the crime because Lola used Brionys certainty as a way to avoid the difficulty and humiliation of accusing Marshall even when she knew it was not Robbie (at leat Briony truly believed it was Robbie). Police are also partly guilty for not countering for Brionys well noticed overactive imagination. key quote: "yes i saw him" p.181

-Robbie feels guilty for all the people he could not save in the war and for being part of such a destructive event. Robbie cannot feel total guilt because although he helped "smash the vase"(partaking in war) he was trying to do what he thought was right.

-many small acts of guilt in the novel are sins of omission. Emily is guilty of negleting Briony and not calling the police.Lola is guilty of staying silent and Robbie is almost guilty of not saving the RAF man but is redeemed by Mace. Cecilia is guilty of hiding her breaking of the vase.

"youve killed noone today, but how many did you leave to die" p.216

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themes: war

-War is a presence throughout the novel. In part 1 war looms over the Tallises due to Jacks absence to work on 'war' and Marshalls talk of war and hope to create a camo ammo bar.

-Fragility of life in part one and brutality of life during war in part 2 create contrast and highlight destructive nature of war.

-Pauls plan to make money out of war seems sickening when we see the suffering that has formed the foundation of his wealth.

- Mckewan does not glorify war. Bursts of combat are dispursed between mundane injuries and an inevitable hunt for food and water that would have made up the majority of a soldiers day.

-every character in the novel is affected by war: even Emily closed off in a private world bemoans the loss of railings and the disruption of evacuees disrupting the Tallis household.

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-Love in the Tallis household is dysfunctional, only pure love is the love left at the end is the love between Robbie and Cecilia.

-Cecilia and Robbies love evolves throughout the novel: awkward, to aggresive, to with experience and weight behind it in part 3. Through their death, their love is not diminshed because Briony keeps it alive through writing the novel; it is merely tradgically wasted.

-Briony is being idealistic thorugh giving their love a happy ending-it may have been unlikely to stand the test of time. It was merely passionate at the start and was kept alive through correspondance. Highlighed through Robbie and Cecilias meet before Robbie goes to war. 

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