Briony Tallis: a Guilt Ridden Mistake

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Briony Tallis: A Guilt Ridden Mistake In Ian McEwan’s Booker Prize Finalist novel Atonement, many readers develop a hate towards Briony Tallis. As a child, she is very controlling, which is the main reason as to why she is unliked. She believes she understands everything she sees, but she does not, which leads to her falsely accusing Robbie Turner of rape. But as she grows older, she realizes that she did not understand everything that she saw. Although it is easy to hate Briony because she falsely accuses Robbie, due to her childish naivety and innocence, her belief is that she is protecting Cecilia. She tries to formulate conclusions to what she sees, but misinterprets the adult world and believes Robbie Turner is a threat to her sister. When she matures, the realization of her mistake causes her extreme guilt, and she dedicates her life to finding atonement. The fountain scene is the first scene in which Briony’s innocence and naivety leads her to misunderstand Robbie Turner. She does not know what is going on, but she attempts to understand. Being inside the house, she cannot hear the dialogue, so her creative and naive mind is trying to interpret what is happening. She sees Cecilia strip down to her knickers and get into the fountain and she believes Robbie forced her. Her perception is that Turner has some type of power over her sister; “What strange power did he have over her?” (McEwan 36). Her belief is that her sister is in danger and, under the wrath of this maniac, can not resist his commands: “What was less comprehensible, however, was how Robbie imperiously raised his hand now, as though issuing a command which Cecilia dared not disobey. It was extraordinary that she was unable to resist him” (McEwan 36). She misunderstands what is really happening and is reaching for explanations for her sisters shame; creating answers to her
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