Parallel Experiences Shape Atonement College

In a very meta fashion, Atonement repeatedly places emphasis and raises questions about the significance and the role of the writer in literature. By eventually revealing that Briony has been the one penning the story all along, readers are left doubting nearly everything they have read before. Briony/McEwan’s comparisons of Robbie and Briony simultaneously paint Briony as a manipulative character influenced by class differences and a character that was truly trying to atone. While there is constantly an underlying importance in the role of the writer, the paramount issue is class differences. This overarching theme is largely seen through the parallel experiences of Robbie and Briony and the symbols that are shared between the two of them.

Robbie Turner is a character that is never granted freedom. He is always pent up in many ways: He has to serve a family during his youth, he is strangled by his love for Cecilia, he is imprisoned because of his love for Cecilia, and released on the grounds that he potentially – and later, literally – give his life for his country. This damnation is entirely caused by the grave that Briony digs for him. Eventually, during his time as a soldier, a piece of the war gets lodged inside of him in...

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