Sunday, 18 September 2016

Atonement

    Atonement is the action of making amends for a wrong or injury. This is the title of the novel we were assigned to read; this is what Briony, the protagonist of the novel by the same name,  wished to accomplish. But did she want to atone for her mistake or was she just wallowing in self-pity? This is the question we went back and forth about for fifteen minutes in our open space groups. Needless to say, we could not decide.

The majority stated that yes, Briony did reach her ultimate goal and proved to Cee and Robbie that she was truly sorry.The fact that she accused Robbie of raping Lola when she was only thirteen and did not understand what she witnessed  shows how immature and naive she was, absolving her of responsibility. Later in life, instead of attending Cambridge like the rest of her family, she decided to become a nurse. Some may say this was an attempt to become closer to Cecilia because Cee was a nurse as well. Another contributing factor may have been that, throughout her life, the guilt over her accusation consumed her and led her not just to a career in service and helping others, but to her decision to write the book in the first place. These are all plausible explanations, but I don’t agree with them. I think Briony was doing what she did for selfish reasons and she never truly tried her hardest to atone for what she did. There as so many things she could have done and yet she chose to do the things that would make people pity her. Being a nurse during a major war is never an easy task. She feels too guilty to further her education as the rest of her family she felt like punishing herself by becoming a nurse. I see this a selfish because the only one affected by this is Briony herself. Whereas if she attended Cambridge, she could've made something of herself and helped many more people.  In my view, Briony could've been more persistent on expressing to Cee how sorry she was, rather than letting Cee isolate herself and hate Briony more because of what she's done. At the end of the day, Briony was the reason Robbie and Cecilia couldn't spend enough time together; she singlehandedly ruined Robbie’s life, and for what? Robbie and Cee both died apart from each other never being able to live their lives together; that’s all because of Briony. The fact that Cee and Robbie live happily together in Briony’s book doesn't mean that everything is alright. By the time Briony realized what she had done and the impact it had on the people around her, it was too late to alter the court statement. So yes, in my eyes Briony performed some atonement and made an effort to atone for what she did. But the gravity of the accusation she made and the effect it had on everyone around her was so drastic and lasting that there’s no way for her to atone properly, no matter the efforts she's made. That is why Robbie and Cee never forgive her, because what she did was unforgivable.


McEwan, Ian. Atonement: A Novel. New York: Anchor, 2001. Print.
( looked up the definition of atonement)

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