Atonement Summary

Topics: World War II, World War I, Family Pages: 8 (2852 words) Published: June 23, 2013
atonement / to atone (for sth): to make repayment (for doing wrong); to do something that shows that you are sorry for something bad that you did Sühne, Buße, Abbitte

The book was written by Ian McEwan and published in 2001. The film “Atonement” is an adaption of the novel. It was first shown in September 2007. The film won an Oscar and was nominated for six others. Keira Knightley plays Cecilia Tallis. The photos from the presentation are taken from film sequences.

1. Main Characters
Briony Tallis
Briony Tallis is a 13 year old English girl and the youngest of three children. She likes to write little plays, dramas and short stories. She is lost in her writing world which she can handle better than the adult world and real life. She is rather isolated and has no real friends so the world of the written word is her best friend. Her stories are full of romance, heroes and ladies who are saved by fearless heroes. The stories always end with the marriage proposal. Her books show an idealized world. For her family her hobby is a real obsession. They are aware that she loves books more than the real world.

Cecilia Tallis
Cecilia Tallis is the middle child of the Tallis family. She was at Cambridge and is now not sure what she wants to do with her future. She thinks about going to London and find a job (this is what her father expects her to do) or visiting family friends. “Cambridge had changed her fundamentally […]. No one in her family, however, noticed the transformation in her, and she was not able to resist the power of their habitual expectations” (p. 103). So she wants to be independent from her family and the snobbery around her (p. 209). She knows that her parents don’t really care what she does: “No one was holding Cecilia back, no one would care particularly if she left” (p. 21).

Leon Turner
He is the eldest child of the Tallis family. He lives in London and seems to be successful in life. At this special summer day he visits his family and brings his friend Paul Marshall (a chocolate tycoon/millionaire) along with him on his trip home.

Robbie Turner
Robbie is the son of Grace Turner, the cleaning lady of the Tallis household. Robbie’s father Ernest (the Tallises’ gardener) left the family when Robbie was six. He left without luggage and without a note. Robbie is not sure if his father left them to avoid serving in the Great War (World War I). Grace Turner became the Tallises’ cleaner the week after her husband walked away. In the school holidays Grace was allowed to bring her own six-year-old along and so Robbie grew up with all the conveniences the Tallis family offerd her own children. Robbie is a very intelligent therefore Cecilia’s father (Jack Tallis) funded his education. He is allowed to visit Cambridge together with Cecilia. But Robbie knows that he is in another circle than Cecilia and that for Cecilia it is often embarrassing that the servant’s son is also at Cambridge. After Cambridge he wants to go to Medical College - again with the financial help of Jack Tallis. “Jack Tallis was his patron, Leon and Cecilia were his best friends, at least until grammar school. At university, where Robbie discovered that he was cleverer than many of the people he met, his liberation was complete.” (p. 86) Robbie and Cecilia had known each other since they were seven. She is like a sister to him, almost invisible. But in the summer of 1935 it bothered them that they were now awkward when they meet. Something had changed. He begins to see her beauty and is attracted by her.

Jack Tallis
He has a government job in London. He funds Robbie’s education. Jack Tallis seems to be a distant and absent figure.

Emily Tallis
She suffers from severe migraines. She often stays in bed the whole day but nevertheless “knows” what is happening in the house. She has never approved of paying for Robbie’s education, nor of Cecilia’s going to...
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