Briony Tallis is, really, the driving force behind Atonement. It is her lie that sets the events of the story in motion, as the scorned child accuses Robbie of a crime he did not commit. The rest of Briony's life is spent trying to make up for this error in judgment, trying to atone for it.
Briony Tallis, aged 13: Lola, can I tell you something? Something really terrible?
Lola Quincey: Yes please.
Briony Tallis, aged 13: What's the worse word you can possibly imagine?
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I am very, very sorry for the terrible distress that I have caused you. I am very, very sorry...Briony - 18 years old
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Dear Cecilia, Please don't throw this away without reading it. As you'll have seen from the notepaper, I'm here at St. Thomas's, doing my nurses' training. I decided not to take up my place at Cambridge. I decided I wanted to make myself useful, do something practical. But no matter how hard I work, no matter how long the hours, I can't escape from what I did and what it meant, the full extent of which I'm only now beginning to grasp. Cee, please write and tell me we can meet. Your sister, Briony.Briony - 18 years old
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[voiceover] Dearest Cecilia, the story can resume. The one I had been planning on that evening walk. I can become again the man who once crossed the surrey park at dusk, in my best suit, swaggering on the promise of life. The man who, with the clarity of passion, made love to you in the library. The story can resume. I will return. Find you, love you, marry you and live without shame.Robbie Turner
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