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Rory Book Discussions > Atonement - Chapters 11-15

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message 1: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) Any thoughts on the final chapters of Part One?


message 2: by Dini, the master of meaning (new)

Dini | 691 comments Mod
Sarah, I gotta say I had a good guess of what Briony's "crime" might be way before it was revealed. It either means McEwan really succeeded in foreshadowing the events in the novel, or that the plot is rather predictable. I think I'm leaning toward the former. What do you guys think?


message 3: by Arielle (last edited Jan 14, 2008 06:43AM) (new)

Arielle | 120 comments I'd like to say it was his skill at foreshadowing, but I think the movie previews played a part too. But I felt the same way. Part one was kind of agonizing (not the writing, just the waiting) to me because I knew something horrible was going to happen, so I read waiting for the axe to fall.


message 4: by Erin (new)

Erin | 47 comments I think the foreshadowing was heavy handed as well. I knew where it was going and WAY before, especially with Lola claiming the twins attacked her, and Robby's "thoughts" that he should not have gone searching for the twins alone, that he would regret it later.

I was wondering about McEwan's motives for being too obvious about the plot as well Dini. I think he should have been a bit more subtle about it, but that's just my opinion, I like to be surprised (like in The Hours).

FYI--The film won best picture at the Golden Globes. Haven't seen it yet, but I'd like to.


message 5: by Dini, the master of meaning (last edited Jan 14, 2008 09:56PM) (new)

Dini | 691 comments Mod
Can't wait for the movie also, Erin.

As I've done in other threads on Atonement, I'm posting some discussion questions I found on the net in the hope that they might help bring out discussion and that you guys might answer them better than me, lol. So here goes:

* Having read Robbie's note to Cecilia, Briony thinks about its implications for her new idea of herself as a writer: "No more princesses! . . . With the letter, something elemental, brutal, perhaps even criminal had been introduced, some principle of darkness, and even in her excitement over the possibilities, she did not doubt that her sister was in some way threatened and would need her help" [pp. 106–7]. Why is Robbie's uncensored letter so offensive within the social context in which it is read? Why is Cecilia not offended by it?

* The scene in the library is one of the most provocative and moving descriptions of sex in recent fiction. How does the fact that it is narrated from Robbie's point of view affect how the reader feels about what happens to him shortly afterwards? Is it understandable that Briony, looking on, perceives this act of love as an act of violence?

* Why does Briony stick to her story with such unwavering commitment? Does she act entirely in error in a situation she is not old enough to understand, or does she act, in part, on an impulse of malice, revenge, or self-importance?

* How does Leon, with his life of "agreeable nullity" [p. 103], compare with Robbie in terms of honor, intelligence, and ambition? What are the qualities that make Robbie such an effective romantic hero?


message 6: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca | 50 comments I'm still waiting to 'hear' that it was really Paul Marshall -- that whole business with Lola's bruising from earlier, and him being aware of it, even though she said it happened when the boys came in while she was in the bath -- it's all too weird. My very first thought when she began telling Briony her story was that in all that time that afternoon, no one had mentioned Marshall or Lola and he had obviously assaulted her when they were left in the nursery.

I think Briony's certainty was forced by several influences. You have to admit, these events all happening in one day is quite a lot for a young 13 year old to process! You have her titillation and disgust from reading the letter on her own, then Lola's 'maniac' input and the seed planted there of contacting the police, then what she saw as a violent scene in the library... I think she probably was caught up in the moment, wanting to feel important, wanting to be right, wanting to help Lola and Cee, and wanting the story to fit in her new mold. There is clearly a great deal of misunderstanding between her and Lola out on the island. And the character is referred to as being unable to take it back once she was so far down the path of accusal.

On the foreshadowing, I think it was intentionally heavy-handed -- he just flat out says it, really. I believe it was so we would have a sense of dreaded anticipation while we waited to see how it would unfold.

And I liked how that tension was in such contrast to Emily's relaxation, contrary to her belief that she could always winnow out what was happening. I was reminded that she specifically mentioned how she could never tell what was *going* to happen, just what was already happening.

Rambly enough? :)


message 7: by Erin (new)

Erin | 47 comments I know this is probably not the right thread for this, but everyone's comments made me think of this...

It's interesting that the first sexual assault, if you will, takes place in the nursery. It is the juxtaposition of innocence and experience that controls the whole novel, so it seems fitting (and odd) that such a thing would take place in the nursery.

Also, the sensuality of the sex scene between Cecilia and Robbie in the library is an interesting juxtaposition as well. The "naughty" act in a very proper place.

Any thoughts on this?


message 8: by Meghan (new)

Meghan Okay, I haven't gotten this far yet so I can't respond to any of your questions, although I think they're super fantastic! Incredible actually.

But one thing kind of struck me though. Do you feel that McEwan made SUCH a big deal about how Briony was the baby and how everyone took care of her. Now she underwent this "transformation" and it is her turn to start taking care of everyone else (i.e., Cecilia and Lola)?

And what about this need to be taken care of as well as the need to take care of others? I kind of feel like these people are all like children trying to act like grown ups. Do you think it's the era they live in (pre-WWII, still a little bit innocent)? Or perhaps their status (the idle rich so-to-speak)? Or maybe the absentee-ism of this family (father always gone, mother always sick, older son and daughter away at school, Briony locked in her fantasies)? Rather like nothing "real" touches them so they can afford to live these fantasy lives. [Okay, that was two things. Oops!]


message 9: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca | 50 comments Erin, I think that's a fascinating insight re: the assault in the nursery as part of an overall innocence/experience theme. I am getting so much more out of this book with this list of general themes we've come up with.

I am SO enjoying seeing the pieces others are pulling out of this book -- it has been ages since I read anything analytically.


message 10: by Arctic (new)

Arctic | 571 comments great posts! I agree, it's great getting these added perspectives and insights from others on this book. Great observations on the nursery and library scenes especially, Erin.

RE the first question Dini raised regarding "The Vagina Monologues", initially I really thought that the big crime that sparked it all was going to just be Briony giving this letter to Emily and the rest of the book would revolve around the resultant class struggles. I'm so glad it was at least a little more complex than that.

Cecelia's response to the letter was definitely the more adult one in comparison to Briony's (more evidence of her immaturity - the word meaning association based on nearby dictionary entries especially). But how would her response have been different, how would the whole book have been different, if she had been as concerned and sensitive about class status as her mother? Even if she still had mutual feelings for Robbie, I think she may have been more likely to suppress those feelings and publicly mock him for his indelicacy.

That Briony confided in Lola about the letter I thought was also interesting. I thought for sure that Lola was going to claim it was Robbie who had fought with her in the nursery, and so for the second time was fooled into thinking I knew what the big crime was.

Also, there's the whole chapter about Emily and all she hears in the household, her sixth sense and second sight so to speak. She goes on and on about how she doesn't have to see what's going on to know about it. And she even accurately assesses that Marshall was still in the nursery with Lola after the twins leave for thier bath, and yet she suspects nothing when she sees their respective injuries later on at dinner, and seems to have forgot the incident altogether when it comes time to indicting someone for the crime by the pond. Was she just distracted by the twins disappearance or was her hatred/resentment of Robbie so deep that she was blind to any other possibilities (similar in that respect to Briony's response)?

I really think she too could have changed the outcome of events. And I think maybe this was another aim of McEwan - to show that events had to happen just so - that any one of the characters at any time could have made a different decision or had different responses, and lives would have been drastically changed. He even spends some time on the topic of fate actually, repeating again and again especially from Cecilia's perspective, the feeling that things were already set in stone and that she was just a spectator to events as they unfolded, powerless to change them.

very interesting book when you take it apart.


message 11: by Arctic (new)

Arctic | 571 comments Meghan, in response to your first question about Briony wanting to take care of everyone else, yes I think it was part of Briony's desire to be more grown up. She saw it as the grown up thing to do. She even takes this attitude somewhat towards her mother when we see her watching Emily from the garden. And McEwan indicates that if she hadn't had this overwhelming desire to be an adult, if she had remained a child for one more day, she would not have committed the crime.

And that reminds me - any one notice the parity in Briony's seeing the disembodied leg of her mother through the window and Robbie's similar haunting vision later on in France? Both he and she at some point wish they could go back and change things.


message 12: by Erin (new)

Erin | 47 comments Heather, I forgot that Emily observed Paul was still in the nursery. This could reaffirm our assumptions that Robbie is an easy target because of his class. Paul Marshall is always referred to as the chocolate magnet or mogul, and clearly a person of that "stature" could not be called into question for committing such a crime (even in the later years of his and Lola's marriage). The only two viable "suspects" are Robbie and the caretaker's son (name escapes me and I don't have my book) two members of the servant class.

The guests are oblivious to the scratches on Marshall's nose, or they notice them and don't make connections between the two injuries. Perhaps because accusing a member of the upper class of committing a crime is like turning on one's own. Reminds me a bit of To Kill a Mockingbird in that respect.

K, I'll stop rambling now and get back to my grading.




message 13: by Joey (new)

Joey | 26 comments A friend of mine read the book previously when it first came out and she was talking about it, so unofortunately the "crime" wasn't a surprise to me. I wish it had been though. I'm not sure if I would have figured it out. One thing I noticed about Paul Marshall, that I may have overlooked if I had not known the crime, was the fact that before he goes into to nursery, he is having a dream about his young sisters grabbing at him and it seems to sexually arouse him. I think this is very telling, as then he goes into the nursery and lo and behold, at dinner, Lola is covered in bruises and making elaborate excuses. It made me peg him as a perverted man immediately.

I too forgot that Emily knew that Paul was in the nursery! I didn't really think much about the class aspect of things while I was reading because I was just too darned caught up in the whole story. But now that it is mentioned that Emily knew Paul was in the nursery, it does really make one wonder as to why there was no further examination of the reason for Lola's previous bruises etc.

Good insight about the leg parallel's with Robbie and Emily! I never thought of that, but I will go back and take a look.


message 14: by Arielle (new)

Arielle | 120 comments You all have some fascinating things to say, especially about the class issues, and the "juxtaposition of innocence and experience" (well said, by the way) that I hadn't even begun to think about. I actually remembered all of the creepy things about Paul Marshall. First there was his inappropriate dream about his younger sisters (red flag) and the remark that Lola reminded him of his sisters (even bigger red flag) followed by Emily hearing them giggling in the nursery (wildly waving gigantic red flag). My question (and I don't have my book handy, so I could be way off base) is, is it possible that Lola was inviting his advances? They were giggling together in the nursery (I think) and then if I remember right, she dressed with much care for dinner that night as if trying to impress someone. I wonder if she was so desperate for a little attention from anyone, and being 15, and having a mother who isn't exactly discreet about her own love life, made her anxious to grow up and experience things too fast, and then Paul got out of hand. Again, I'm bookless, so I might be interpreting way too much. And I was confused: Did Lola know the identity of her attacker?


message 15: by Meghan (new)

Meghan Arielle - I had the same feelings. Kind of like Lola wanted the attention from this man to prove that she was part of the "adults" and not the "kids". But when Paul made his moves, it was not like how she was used to being treated, hence the scratches. She got in way over her head.

And yes, you do learn whether or not Lola knew her attacker later in the book. (I've cheated and skimmed the entire book. But I'm also reading it "normally" so it's taking me a while to get through this book--often I wonder if I will EVER get done with Part 1.)


message 16: by Dini, the master of meaning (new)

Dini | 691 comments Mod
After reading the posts on class struggle, I find it interesting that Cecilia, open-minded as she was in loving someone of a lower class, thought Danny Hardman as the perpetrator of the crime even until years after. It didn't even cross her mind that Paul Marshall could also be a suspect. Could it be that deep down she has similar views on class as her mother? An affirmation of Erin's "turning on one's own" theory, perhaps?

Oh I also agree that reading all of your posts have been a real mind-opener. It's like I'm transported back to lit class!


message 17: by Sera (new)

Sera I viewed Briony's attempt to take care of others as an attempt to atone for her prior conduct. I really believe that what she did ate away at her and since it couldn't be fixed, she had to do something to make herself feel better.

I read these posts with great fascination, because I am impressed with everyone's insight and thoughfulness. Many of you could teach!


message 18: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) Whew! I finally finished part one! I haven't responded on the other threads yet because I don't want to read spoilers, so once I started the threads I've avoided them since. So this is going to be one loooong post. Anyhoo...

Foreshadowing
pp. 113 "Maniacs can attack anyone." That sentence is definitely a red flag that Robbie will be accused of an attack.

pp. 116, Briony's point of view of the encounter in the library definitely showed her state of mind that evening. Obviously she did not understand what was going on, but she describes Robbie as "huge and wild" and Cecelia as "thin" and "frail" and "terrified" and "trapped."

pp. 133 "Paul Marshall cleared his throat. 'I saw it myself -- had to break it up and pull them off her. I have to say, I was surprised, little fellows like that. They went for her all right...'" ...
"Robbie wanted to know why Marshall had not mentioned the matter before if Lola had been so badly harmed"

Did the twins really attack Lola? Or was it Paul Marshall? Because if it was Marshall, why was Lola unsure of the identity of her attacker in the island temple? And if it WAS the twins, and Marsall, DID pull them off of her, was she naked? She said the twins attacked her when she was getting into the bath, right? Anyway, I'm unclear on that whole thing.

pp. 142 "She thought of Robbie at dinner when there had been something manic and glazed in his look." Emily doesn't even know about the letter yet, but she already views Robbie in a hostile light.

Also, when Briony, Lola, Cecelia, and Leon come back into the house, where was Paul Marshall? Everyone talks about how Robbie was unaccounted for, but no one thinks of where Marshall was.

*
pp. 122, I loved this line, considering what Briony had just walked in on in the library: "On a cooler day we'd be in the library watching the theatricals now."

Dini, to answer the questions you'd posed. Cecelia is not offended by the letter because she's in love with Robbie. In fact I think she's a little turned on by it. I have to say though, I don't get why the sex scene in the library is supposed to be so provocative or whatever. I didn't think it was that great. I've read way steamier scenes (and no, not in romance novels). I do think that, because they were standing against the bookshelves and Robbie was holding Cecelia's arm, it would be easy for someone who doesn't understand sex to veiw it as a violent attack. Definitely.

I really liked the description of Briony's commitment to her story: "She was like a bride-to-be who begins to feel her sickening qualms as the day approached, and dares not speak her mind because so many preparations have been made on her behalf." Briony sticks to her story for a few reasons. First of all, she likes the attention she gets every time she is questioned. She likes feeling like the protector of both Lola and Cecelia. As the baby of the family, it makes her feel grown up. And at first, because of her hatred and previous suspicions of Robbie, she is utterly convinced that he is the attacker. Later, when she begins to doubt, she pushes those doubts away because she feels like the snowball is already rolling and too late to stop.

Why doesn't Lola speak up about who her attacker was? She says she wasn't sure, that her eyes were covered, but she does seem uncomfortable at first with Briony's insistence that it was Robbie. Also - and it's too long to retype here - the last paragraph on page 157, which begins "And so their respective positions..."
She's so traumatized by what happened that it's easier to let Briony take charge than to admit she's not sure. She, for once, doesn't want all the attention on herself.

And EMILY, whew, she's a piece of work! First there's this little gem:
"Even being lied to constantly, though hardly like love, was sustained attention; he must care about her to fabricate so elabroately and over such a long stretch of time. His deceit was a form of tribute to the importance of their marriage. Wronged child, wronged wife. But she was not so unhappy as she should be."

Then, I underlined a whole bunch of reasons Emily would jump to believe it was Robbie rather than Marshall. She's resentful of him because of the attention he gets from her husband. She doesnt' think he deserves it, partly because of his class and partly because she's jealous of anyone getting attention over her. That's a nice little leftover from her childhood with Hermione.

Then consider how she thinks of Marshall, who made several social faux pas at the dinner: "how artfully Mr. Marshall had put everyone at ease." I loved how the dinner was told from Robbie's perspective, and Robbie, the servant's son, was conscious of Marshall's rudeness. It seems no one else was. They overlooked his behavior because of his class.

Emily confuses me. One minute she wants to be detached from it all ("She would have preferred to retreat upstairs to her room") and the next she wants to be the protective guardian. SHe admits that the reason she gets so worked up abotu the twins' absence is because it makes her feel like a better mother than Hermione. I suppose that and her resentment of Robbie are the reasons she goes after him so single-mindedly.

Oooh, I had forgetten about Paul's creepy dream about his sisters!







message 19: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) Oh, and I just want to add that I thought the crime was going to be Briony accusing Robbie of raping Cecelia in the library.


message 20: by Dini, the master of meaning (last edited Jan 17, 2008 11:17AM) (new)

Dini | 691 comments Mod
Sarah, I thought so too when I first read about the "crime" on the book's back cover.

Is it safe to say that you've won the award for Longest Post Ever in The Rory Gilmore Book Club? And a very insightful one at that!


message 21: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) I dunno, Dini! Michele had a couple of humdingers in the Time Traveler's Wife thread.


message 22: by Meghan (new)

Meghan Foreshadowing
pp. 113 "Maniacs can attack anyone." That sentence is definitely a red flag that Robbie will be accused of an attack.

I thought that was interesting Sarah because I never saw that coming. I only saw it that Lola was attacked not by the twins but rather by Paul. And she was using the letter to express her feelings about what just happened to her. I thought had Briony not seen the fountain scene with Robbie and Cecilia she would have been more intune to Lola and maybe pickd up on that herself.


message 23: by Meghan (new)

Meghan pp. 142 "She thought of Robbie at dinner when there had been something manic and glazed in his look." Emily doesn't even know about the letter yet, but she already views Robbie in a hostile light.


I thought it was interesting that she protested underwriting his college and used the excuse that it was unfair to Leon and Cecilia. I think by far, she is the worst when it comes to class snobbery. She is my least favorite character (among so many too!)


message 24: by Robbie (last edited Jan 20, 2008 05:15PM) (new)

Robbie Bashore | 592 comments Arielle,
In response to your post way back there about whether Lola could have been (I'll insert "consciously or unconsciously") inviting Mr. Marshall's attentions--I'll say I had at least wondered whether McEwan had intentially chosen a name that could evoke thoughts of Lolita.

I'm not really an underliner when I read fiction, but I came close to underlining, "His deceit was a form of tribute to the importance of her marriage." Initially, I just thought that was a great example of the thinking of an abused woman. Willing to sustain herself on the tiniest scrap of "caring." Now I also see it as very adolescent.


message 25: by Meghan (new)

Meghan Okay I've FINALLY finished Part 1. Woot! Woot! Anyway, since I've made myself read this thing, I'm making comments even if everyone else has moved on! ha!

Many people have touched on this already and so I just want to add my thoughts. At first I was outraged by Emily's selfishness. Her "I have a migrane" as an excuse to not participate in her children's lives is inexcusable to me. However, further reading has made me soften (a bit) towards her.

I loved how McEwan wrote about her marriage (starting in chapter 11, p. 139).

"There was nothing to say. Or rather, there was too much. They resembled each other in their dread of conflict..."

"The regularity of his evening calls...was a comfort to them both. If this sham was conventional hypocrisy, she had to concede that it had its uses."

"She intended to preserve them by not challenging Jack....Even being lied to constantly, though hardly like love, was sustained attention; he must care about her to fabricate so elaborately and over such a long stretch of time. His deceit was a form of tribute to the importance of their marriage."

Like Robbie said, I too thought this is what an abused (or neglected) woman says. But further ponderance on this, I think this is something ALL women tell themselves.

It's nature's self-preservation. From tiny little girls, we are taught to believe that we are the damsels in distress and some magical, mythical man will come save us. And that being saved equates being loved. And happily ever after love is the only kind of love we want (even though no one ever describes what happily ever after entails). And yet, we also are taught that somehow we aren't worthy of being loved unless we are perfect in body, in motherhood, and in bed (or is it the kitchen?). Should we fail at "having it all" it's obvious there is something wrong with us and therefore completely understandable why we don't have this fairytale romantic life. And so begins our road of settling for less because we no longer are capable of believing we somehow are worthy and deserve more.

For Emily, having security and stability in home and family IS the highest priority of her life. Having money, children who were accomplished and beautiful, hosting the requisite parties, these were her life (whether she really wanted it or not).T And she understood if she accepted Jack's lies, she would be able to maintain this lifestyle. But what woman doesn't need to feel loved too? I'm not sure she was in love with him, but she loved him enough to care that he thought enough about her to lie to her.

I find it amazing that McEwan was able to capture a very female thought process and express it so well.


message 26: by Meghan (new)

Meghan However, I find it interesting that her words to Briony (after Lola's attack - p. 168) were, "But why didn't you tell me?"

And Briony's (thought) response was, "it was a good question, but it would never have occurred to her to trouble her mother. Nothing but a migraine would have come of it."

I did applaud that when push came to shove, Emily did step up to the plate and took charge. Personally, I think she was happier when she was in control. I think that the times (and maybe her relationship with her sister) made her think she needed to step back and allow others to take over. Or maybe by "having a migraine" it was her passive-aggressive way of putting the attention on herself (in her mind). Personally, I think she was a very bored housewife who needed to go out and find a hobby (and spend a little more quality time with her children).



message 27: by Meghan (new)

Meghan Lastly, I like this thought that Emily had, "Not everything had a cause, and pretending otherwise was an interference in the workings of the world that was futile, and could even lead to grief. Some things wer simply so."

I haven't decided if I agree with it or not but I liked it.


message 28: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) Okay, am I missing something here? I mean, I know that I assumed Paul was Lola's real attacker, but do we know that for sure? Has it been said anywhere in part one? Or, at this point, are we all just talking about assumptions and/or knowledge from later in the book?


message 29: by Meghan (new)

Meghan No. It was never mentioned out right. Sorry. I making presumptions based on his odd behavior in the nursery.


message 30: by Erin (new)

Erin | 76 comments and in response to Robbie's response to Arielle ... :)

Even with Emily removing herself from her family's life, I think that her intuition is sometimes accurate. One passage that grabbed my attention was her perspective on Lola (p138). This is before Briony finds Lola on the island:

"And Lola, like her mother, would not be held back.... she upstaged her runaway brothers... When the twins came back, it was a certain bet that Lola would still have to be found... all the attention would be hers...How like Hermione lola was, to remain guiltless while others destroyed themselves at her prompting."

No doubt Emily's views are guided by her extensive knowledge of her sister rather than her limited knowledge of Lola. But it makes me wonder if Emily has perceived correctly. And if so, did Lola really experience an attack? Did she allow herself to be portrayed as a victim as a way to pull the attention back to herself?


message 31: by Meghan (last edited Jan 22, 2008 06:54PM) (new)

Meghan From the passages that I read, I believe that Lola was attacked. I am confused as to what really happened in the nursery (did the twins really attack her and Paul help pull them off her? Did Paul approach her and the twins interrupt them and so they covered it up by saying they attacked her? What about Paul's scratch on his face? Did the twins inflict it or did Lola?). But just what was said between Lola and Briony, I felt that Lola was truly confused and didn't really believe that Robbie is the one who attacked her.

But, as you pointed out Erin, like her mother, it was easier to allow Briony to take over. McEwan even wrote that she didn't need to lie, she didn't even need to say anything. She just had to lay there and play victim (something I'm sure she 'learned' from her mother).


message 32: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) Meghan, I thought that Lola was confused too, and that she really was attacked. Briony saw someone get up and leave the scene, and Lola certainly seemed traumatized. What I'm not sure about was whether the twins really attacked her in the bathtub or if it was Paul. I'm sure we'll find out in Part Three.


message 33: by Robbie (new)

Robbie Bashore | 592 comments I'm finding it interesting that most of you think that Emily is faking her headaches. Perhaps I'm a Polly-Anna (although, trust me, I'm usually a cynic), but I read this as if the headaches are real. Migraines can be pretty debilitating, and there wasn't much in the way of treatment for them back then. At least she wasn't an opium addict! (As far as we know.)

As for her other behavior...sometimes chronic pain creates a sort of "learned helplessness." It could contribute to her victim-like response to her husband, etc. It also causes the family to tip-toe around her. (See quotes in Meghan's posts.) Of course, stress of any kind can trigger migraines, too.


message 34: by Meghan (new)

Meghan Robbie - Just to clarify, I don't believe she was faking her migraines. A lot of my friends unfortunately suffer from them and so I do recognize how dibilitating they are. But I do firmly believe she used them to excuse herself from her family life...from life in general.

Briony did not tell her mother about the letter not because she didn't think it would do any good or was embarassed to, but because it never occurred to her to do so! That speaks volumes to me about how Emily behaves and is perceived by her family as a mother.

I believe she used her migraines as a crutch. When life called upon Emily to act, she responded in force. Her children were shocked by it, not believing she had it in her. Even she was surprised that no migraine had appeared. I believe that she could have had a much more active role in this household and family if she had chose to. I think she felt victimized by her sister and grew up to be resentful and larthegic towards life. Her family allowed to her to continue her behavior and thus, we're where we're at.

I don't think she should never have a migraine, or suffer through them, but I think she would have had a lot less of them had she made some changes in her attitude and her life. Or, at the very least, not let them interfere quite so badly with how she handled her household and family.


message 35: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca | 74 comments Sarah - You questioned if we know Paul Marshall was Lola's real attacker or not. As I was reading it, I was so sure it was him really, but then it would creep into my mind that it might not be Paul after all and maybe the author just wants us to think it was Paul. At this point I do not believe it was Robbie and I do believe Paul was the attacker in the nursery for sure, but I wouldn't be surprised if it doesn't turn out to be Paul. There was mentioned of heavy foreshadowing and maybe the author is purposely doing that to lead us to wrong conclusions. I don't know the answers, but I intend on finding out as soon as I can! I started part 2 last night and hope to get a good crack at finishing the book when my son takes his nap this afternoon.

Also, I had forgotten that I thought the use of the word "aroused" was weird when Paul woke from his nap. Now that it's been pointed out in the aftermath of Part 1, it's even more sinister.

I could see Lola trying to act more grown up and gettin in a situation way over her head. Of course, no attack is called for.

I'm really enjoying this book so far and everyone's comments.


message 36: by Arielle (new)

Arielle | 120 comments Robbie, I like that "learned helplessness" phrase. It sums up a lot of Emily's behavior to me.


message 37: by Joey (last edited Jan 23, 2008 07:15AM) (new)

Joey | 26 comments I had an idea that although she was upset and maybe a little muddled, Lola did know who the attacker was. It seemed that because Briony was so sure, she just allowed herself to flow with that vein, instead of having to take any real part in it. She wanted to let someone else take care of it. Maybe at that point she was broken and maybe even embarassed that her attempt at seeming like an adult had failed.

"She may have been about to speak, she may have been about to embark upon a long confession in which she would find her feelings as she spoke them and lead herself out of the numbness towards something that resembled both terror and joy...But it did not matter because Briony was about to cut her off and the opportunity would be lost...It was her story, the one that was writing itself around her. (166)


message 38: by Robbie (new)

Robbie Bashore | 592 comments Meghan, I agree that her response to her headaches was somewhat pathologic. What does everybody think about the imagery she has of her headaches? Some kind of animal creeping in, etc. I've never been that good at symbolism.

When I was reading the part where Lola kept repeating , "You *saw* him," I imagined it as some kind of acusation. At first, maybe she didn't want to say his name, because that would make the experience more real, then she was confronting Briony's lie by repeating "you saw him."


message 39: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) Hmm, I never thought of it that way, Robbie. I thought it was Lola confirming that Briony saw him because she (Lola) wasn't sure who it was. Like she was looking to Briony to tell her. But now that I think of it, that's too obvious. Gives me something to think about as I read part three. Thanks!


message 40: by Meghan (last edited Jan 23, 2008 10:01AM) (new)

Meghan Robbie - What a great question! I did find it interesting how McEwan described the headaches "lurking" (for you Alison), lying in wait to attack. I think I'm going to have to read more of the story to really know whether or not my guesses are true. But I rather wonder if it's not commenting on her true feelings about everything? She seems to repress a LOT of herself in the notion of being "proper". Also, it's a way she can avoiding dealing with the ugly things in life. Like she doesn't want to really deal with her sister's children, so what happens? She lays in bed all day in fear of a headache. It's almost like she's subconsciously calling out to the animal (the headache), having it lay in wait should she need it.

Maybe I'm being too harsh on her. But I can't help it. I don't like her much, so far.


message 41: by Meghan (new)

Meghan It is curious at how much McEwan focused on the whole "saw" vs "know" issue. Another great viewpoint. I would have never thought of it that way.


message 42: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) I noticed that when the police were questioning Briony, Meghan, but that's pretty common in police questioning. When I was mugged they were very careful about the words they said and they asked me the same questions over and over to make sure I was consistent. To see someone do something is more concrete than inherently knowing they did it.


message 43: by Meghan (new)

Meghan Yes and it's interesting that Briony was starting to get clued into that. But because she "wanted to please" and felt a "cooling" from adults if she altered her story the tiniest bit, she kept her original words.

But I'm very curious now to see where McEwan is going to take the whole Briony and Lola exchange. I really took it as Lola confirming things with Briony because Briony was SO confident in what she 'saw'. But with Robbie's excellent points, I don't know any more.

Well, this is at least inspiring me to go and read Part 2 now.


message 44: by Robbie (new)

Robbie Bashore | 592 comments After reading on one of these threads about all the class bias, it really stuck out to me how they really didn't question Paul Marshall at all. I mean, on Law & Order, they question *everybody*! Did they really fall for that sleezy cigarette-sharing bit?


message 45: by Dottie (new)

Dottie  (oxymoronid) | 698 comments But with such things as this, I urge you to keep in the front of your thinking the setting -- the place, the time in history which is the where and when of the story. Those factors make all the difference in interpreting or considering motive and action on the part of various characters -- social differences -- and the commanalities of the period of time shift constantly and from decades later may not seem natural -- but they were in that time much more the norm.

Just food for thought. One of my pet subjects -- reading with the timeframe firmly embedded in one's mind.


message 46: by Robbie (new)

Robbie Bashore | 592 comments But...Law & Order! ;)


message 47: by Dottie (new)

Dottie  (oxymoronid) | 698 comments Hee-hee-hee. Yes? But even the laws were different then -- and certainly the society had different expectations of how such things as "the crime" in the book would be handled. There were no roles for women to be questioned by someone with other women present -- we modern ladies have it much better when troubles befall us though certainly it's a far cry from good all over even now. -- okay -- don't get me going -- I 'll be good now.


message 48: by Dottie (new)

Dottie  (oxymoronid) | 698 comments P.S., Robbie, I love Law and Order. I no longer watch it as I once did but I still love it.


message 49: by Robbie (new)

Robbie Bashore | 592 comments Yeah, actually I'm pretty in-tune with things being different in different times. My Law & Order reference was meant to highlight the difference. I think the fact that Paul Marshall wasn't questioned here is an example of the classism of the times. Of course, this still exists today, but we try to pretend it doesn't.


message 50: by Robbie (new)

Robbie Bashore | 592 comments People have told me my sense of humor is very dry and they can't always tell when I'm joking. Just call me Jim ;)


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