English 11 Honors
8 January 2013
Briony’s whole purpose of concocting the second part of the novel was to achieve the atonement for accusing Robbie of rape, thus ruining his future and separating him from her sister, Cecilia, who loved Robbie very much. After the death of the two lovers, Briony had forever lost the chance of forgiveness, however instead of just giving up, she was able to seek atonement. Because her sister and Robbie were no longer alive, Briony had to atone to soothe herself and absolve her conscience of its guilt. So despite the fact that Cecilia and Robbie were not around to see her atoning, Briony was successful in her atonement because she told the true story of what happened therefore admitting she was wrong to the world, as well as assuaged her guilt by giving her sister and Robbie the life they wanted but could never actually have. Briony’s first step in atoning was to tell the real story to the world, which was what she did in the first part of the book. Not only did Briony admit through the story that Robbie was innocent, but she also did not try to make her younger self a likeable character. Her goal was not to make the reader like her and for them to forgive her, but to take responsibility for who she was at the time and what she did. The only people who could truly forgive her were dead so atonement was really a matter of dealing with her conscious. Briony did not care whether or not her readers thought she successfully atoned, it only mattered that she felt she had taken full responsibility for her actions and cleared Robbie of the accusation, which she did in the novel. By doing these things, Briony felt she had atoned by attempting to even try, which she made clear in the second half of her novel, “No atonement for God, novelists, or even atheists. It was always an impossible task and that was precisely the point. The attempt was all.” (377) Thus, because she tried to atone, her effort and...
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