"Social class is the most important factor in the relationships in Atonement" Discuss

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"Social class is the most important factor in the relationships in Atonement" Discuss

 In his famous novel, Atonement, McEwan has depicted several themes clearly throughout the novel, such as social class, innocence, guilt, love and many other. All of them play a big part of the novel and are important but arguably, social class is ultimately the most important one since the whole story begins with Briony trying to protect Cecilia from Robbie whom she believes is not a suitable husband material for her sister due to his background of lower class roots.

The relationship between Robbie and Cecilia has been strongly impacted and influenced because of their social class backgrounds. Mc Ewan wants the readers to see that due to the contextual background from the time, before world war 2 social class statuses played a very important role in the society and determined individuals past. The Tallises' family belonged to an upper class and Jack Tallis decided to help out the Turners who were from working class because "he did not have it in him to turn out a young woman and her child"(87) which is how Robbie came about to play such a bit part in the novel; as the journey of the two older children falling in love is represented. The charitable Tallis family has then paid for both of them to attend Cambridge and study what they desired and Robbie wasn't ashamed of this; often he'd let people know that "there goes my mother's employer's daughter" (79) and McEwan might be portraying  him in this way to show that he's grateful for what the Tallises have done for him and through that he could gain full appreciation by the family and be with Cecilia who he has feelings for. The fountain scene in chapter two is very important in emphasising the links between their relationships and class.  When Cecilia takes her clothes off in front of him, she "unbuttoned her blouse and removed it, unfastened her skirt and stepped out of it" as Cecilia was trying to show her independence but at the same time symbolise that she disagrees with the class division and carelessly exposes herself in front of a man from a lower class.  Robbie saw her as the "frail white nymph" but she overlooked him completely, "dressed quickly...tucking the unfastened blouse into her skirt" and walked away with "savage" movements. Cecilia acted this way to not only show that she's independent and perceives herself as a


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