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Robbie sees Briony’s guilt through his actions in the war because eventhough Briony desires atonement, true forgiveness cannot be obtained because of how deep-rooted and unchangeable the past is, which makes Briony’s actions unforgivable. The difference between the guilty and the innocent is unnoticeable because both suffer repercussions. Although Briony recognized later in her life how horrible the accusations were that she made as a child, there was no way for her to achieve true redemption. The result of Briony’s accusations ruined many people’s lives, so many to the point that Briony could never be forgiven. Briony made many attempts to achieve atonement throughout her life to find forgiveness from Cecilia, Robbie, and herself by becoming a nurse and writing her novel. Near the end of Briony’s death she finally accepted that it was her truly fault that Cecilia and Robbie could not be together. McEwan writes that Briony knew her atonement, “was always an impossible task, and that was precisely the point. The attempt was all” (351). Briony recognizes that becoming and nurse and writing her novel were the closest actions that would reach redemption, but true redemption could never be reached. Although Briony often times tried to contact Cecilia, she never was able to directly apologize to Robbie or Cecilia and never achieved atonement. Briony made many great efforts to earn forgiveness, but her initial wrongdoings and false accusations were too horrible to forgive. The past could not be changed, forgotten, or forgiven. Briony’s need for redemption directly correlates with the overall theme of
5forgiveness and guilt in Atonementand answers the question of whether or not someone can be truly forgiven. Word count: 1200
6Works CitedMcEwan, Ian. Atonement. First Anchor Books Edition, New York. 2001. Print.