Atonement Study Questions

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  • Topic: Atonement in Christianity, Novel, The Broken Vase
  • Pages : 9 (3448 words )
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  • Published : June 27, 2007
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ONE. Several viewpoints are presented within the first section of ‘Atonement'. Briony, the central character of this section, presents an intuitive but naïve narration to be viewed with scrutiny. Cecilia and Robbie give a more realistic view of the world they live in, and Emily Tallis' small contribution gives the readers an insight into the impact of class on relationships. The issue involving Cecilia's venture into the fountain is perceived differently by Briony, Cecilia and Robbie. Briony believes that Cecilia is the victim of Robbie's sexual bullying, which leads her to conclude that Robbie is capable of crime. Cecilia's removal of her clothing to retrieve the vase from the fountain is interpreted by Robbie as a blunt statement on his class; that Cecilia only views Robbie as one below her stature. Cecilia again sees the event from a different viewpoint. She is merely angry and her stubborn attempt to retrieve the vase from the fountain is born of frustration. The differing viewpoints on this event have a foreboding effect. It is easy to see that the perspectives adopted by these characters could lead to disaster. It is made clear in this scene that a singular perception may be clouded. The differing viewpoints exemplify how easy it is to exaggerate an event or even fool yourself into believing something happened when it didn't. TWO. Symbols are used in this section of this text to show the reality of the Tallis family. The temple is described as a point of grandeur from a distance, just as the Tallis family is viewed by their peers. But up close, the temple is degraded and disintegrating, an embodiment of pagan morals in a Christian setting. The temples hollow past is reflective of the empty morals possessed by some characters in the novel. The vase is represented as a point of conflict. It is central in a chain of events that herald the imminent disaster. This connection depicts the flaws in Briony's judgement – both her view of the event and the vase's surface are blemished. FOUR. The pace of the novel in the first section is so slow that it's close to a standstill. The crawling-pace narration has a sedative effect on the reader; they are drawn into the Tallis' fake, morally starved world. Every small detail is drawn out, disproportionately throwing insignificant elements into the spotlight. This is reflective of Briony's view on life; everything is a sign, or another story she can capture with a pen. FIVE. Briony's wilful act of condemnation banishes her innocence into non-existence. She is guilty of a childish stubbornness to prove that she is right, to uphold her convictions even with the knowledge that they are flawed. Her self righteous lies are repeatedly told when she is doubted by her seniors, only embellishing her invention. Nevertheless, after many repetitions, the lies begin to form foundations and she cannot determine the line between fact and fiction. This obscures her certainty and she begins to believe her lie. Lola is equally as guilty, if not more so. Lola has the opportunity to settle the case, to deliver the truth as she is the only real witness of the event. She has had little to do with Briony's perspective of Robbie's ‘maniacal' nature, and as an older girl she has a more mature perspective on the events that have led to the suspected rape. Still, she simply let Briony's conviction "settle over her". This indicates that she is guiltier of the accusation, as she did not even consider the truth when she herself knew it well. SIX. The issue involving the broken vase is pivotal in revealing the gaps between classes. In this section, class is questioned by not only Briony as she accuses Robbie of a vicious crime, but by Emily Tallis in her agreement and Cecilia in her desperate attempts to defend him. Briony comes to think of Robbie as a monster after a progression of misjudged events. His reliance on her family for...
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