Briony Tallis witnesess a flirtation between her older sister Cecilia and the son of a servant Robbie Turner and discovers a note to Cecilia from Robbie with obvious sexual hints. Briony is too young to understand adult motives and fears for her sister's life when she finds Cecilia and Robbie in the midst of passionate sex. Briony convinces herself that Cecilia is in danger and Robbie is a bad person, so when their cousin Lola is raped Briony claims she saw Robbie doing it, knowing deep down that was not the truth. Robbie is sent to jail and Cecilia isolates herself from the family, depressed from loosing the love of her life, Briony grows up trying to atone for her sin.
The theme quite obviously is atonement. Through out the course of the novel Briony Tallis is trying to make ammends for the trouble she has caused many people, to atone for her lie. The novel shows the process of trying to make up for ones betrayal and the physical and emotional tribulations that go along with it.
The authors tone is somber. Looking back on passed events with regret.
"She trapped herself, she marched into the labyrinth of her own construction, and was too young, too awestruck, too keen to please, to insist on making her way back."
"Fretting, concerned thought, reading, looking, wanting - all were to be avoided in favor of a slow drift of association, while the minutes accumulated like banked snow and the silence deepened around her."
"But how to do feelings? All very well to write, She felt sad, or describe what a sad person might do, but what of sadness itself, how was that put across so it could be felt in all its lowering immediacy? Even harder was the threat, or the confusion of feeling contradictory things."
The diction used really strengthened my understanding of the tone. "Childhood fevers" "sin" "betrayal"
The author also used a lot of allusions to other works of literature, this shows Briony's education level which contributes a lot to her level of guilt and understanding of her mistakes. " Grays Anatomy" "The Village" "Dance of Death"