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Definition of atonement. Examples of atonement in a Sentence Recent Examples on the Web The national church and its local branch have established truth and reconciliation commissions around the subject of atonement , modeling their work after a restorative justice body assembled in South Africa in after the end of apartheid.

Now they attend a Baltimore church seeking to atone for its past. First Known Use of atonement , in the meaning defined at sense 4. History and Etymology for atonement see atone.

Our Need for the Atonement

Learn More about atonement. Resources for atonement Time Traveler! Explore the year a word first appeared. Dictionary Entries near atonement at one's own peril at one's own risk at one's peril atonement at one time at one time or another at one with. Time Traveler for atonement The first known use of atonement was in See more words from the same year. Kids Definition of atonement.

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The dinner party breaks into teams to search for them. In the darkness, whilst everyone is searching for the twins, Briony discovers her cousin Lola being raped by an assailant she cannot clearly see. Lola is understandably unable or perhaps unwilling to identify the attacker — strongly hinted to be Marshall — but Briony decides to accuse Robbie and identifies him to the police as the rapist, claiming she has seen Robbie's face in the dark.

Atonement Reader’s Guide

Her previous misinterpretations of seeing Robbie and Cecilia's struggle at the fountain, the letter, and the scene she witnesses in the library, lead Briony to accuse Robbie of raping Lola, despite her having no solid proof that he was responsible. Robbie is taken away to prison, with only Cecilia and his mother believing his protestations of innocence.


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Briony perceives her actions to be heroic, fulfilling her fantasies of the criminal being locked up, yet she is unaware of the impact her implications had. As a result of this, Cecilia cuts off her family and refuses to speak to them again. Robbie and Cecilia's lives are essentially destroyed within this single moment and as a result of a child's lie.

By the time Second World War has started, Robbie has spent several years in prison. He is released on the condition he enlist in the army.

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Cecilia has trained and become a nurse. She has cut off all contact with her family because of the part they took in sending Robbie to jail. Robbie and Cecilia have only been in contact by letter, since she was not allowed to visit him in prison. Before Robbie has to go to war in France, they meet once for half an hour, during Cecilia's lunch break. Their reunion starts awkwardly, but they share a kiss before leaving each other. In France, the war is going badly, and the army is retreating to Dunkirk.

As the injured Robbie goes to that safe haven, he thinks about Cecilia and past events like teaching Briony how to swim, reflecting on Briony's possible reasons for accusing him. His single meeting with Cecilia is the memory that keeps him walking; his only aim is seeing her again.

A Cracked Construction: Postmodernist Fragmentation and Fusion in McEwan’s Atonement

His condition deteriorates over the course of the section: He weakens and becomes delirious, and the text strongly implies that he is dying of his wound. At the end of part two, Robbie falls asleep in Dunkirk, one day before the evacuation begins. Remorseful Briony has refused her place at Cambridge and instead is a trainee nurse in London. She has realised the full extent of her mistake and decides it was Paul Marshall, Leon's friend, whom she saw raping Lola. Briony still writes, although she does not pursue it with the same recklessness as she did as a child. Briony is called to the bedside of Luc, a young, fatally wounded French soldier.

She consoles him in his last moments by speaking with him in her school French, and he mistakes her for an English girl whom his mother wanted him to marry. Just before his death, Luc asks, "Do you love me?

He was a lovely boy far away from his family and about to die. Briony attends the wedding of Paul Marshall and her cousin Lola — who has decided to "marry her rapist" — before finally visiting Cecilia. Robbie is on leave from the army, and Briony meets him unexpectedly at her sister's. Cecilia and Robbie both refuse to forgive Briony, who nonetheless tells them she will try to put things right. She promises to begin the legal procedures needed to exonerate Robbie, even though Paul Marshall will never be held responsible for his crime because of his marriage to Lola, the victim.

The final section, titled "London ," is narrated by Briony herself in the form of a diary entry. Now 77, she is a successful novelist who has recently been diagnosed with vascular dementia , so she is facing rapid mental decline and death. The reader learns that Briony is the author of the preceding sections of the novel. On the penultimate page, Briony reveals that Robbie Turner died of septicaemia — caused by his injury — on the beaches of Dunkirk, that Cecilia was killed by the bomb that destroyed Balham Underground station , and Briony never saw them in Briony did attend Lola's wedding to Marshall, but confesses she was too "cowardly" to visit the "recently bereaved" Cecilia to make amends.

The novel — which she says is factually true apart from Robbie and Cecilia being reunited — is her lifelong attempt at "atonement" for what she did to them. Briony justifies her invented happy ending by saying she does not see what purpose it would serve to give readers a "pitiless" story. She writes, "I like to think that it isn't weakness or evasion, but a final act of kindness, a stand against oblivion and despair, to let my lovers live and to unite them at the end.

McEwan has also said that he was directly influenced by L. Hartley 's The Go-Between. Atonement contains a fictional letter addressed to Briony by the literary critic and editor Cyril Connolly.