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Atonement
by McEwan, Ian
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1. How does Ian McEwan set the tone for the first part of the story? What do you think of the way he creates the mood of the night of Briony's play?

2. Why does Briony stick to her story about what she saw? Is it because she is too young to understand the situation or is she intentionally acting to harm others? When do you think she realizes her actions have been damaging to Cecilia and Robbie?

3. What did you think of Lola's role in the story? What motivated her actions the night she was attacked? Lola has a critical role in the story's plot. Why didn't Briony confront Lola at her wedding to Paul Marshall?

4. Cecilia and Robbie were from different social classes. How did that affect the way their actions were viewed and the way others responded to them? Would Briony's story have been received differently if Robbie and Cecelia had been social peers?

5. World War II plays an important role in the story. Why do you think Ian McEwan devotes part of the novel to Robbie's military service and the battle of Dunkirk?

6. Were you surprised by the ending of the story?

7. What do you think Ian McEwan is saying about forgiveness or atonement? Do you think Briony's novel was an appropriate atonement for her actions as a child?

Additional discussion questions from: Reading Group Guides
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