Atonement

Atonement quotes

31 total quotes (ID: 49)

Briony Tallis
Cecelia Tallis
Other Characters
Robbie Turner


[in a letter] Dear Cecilia, Please don't throw this away without reading it. As you'll have seen from the notepaper, I'm here at St. Thomas's, doing my nurses' training. I decided not to take up my place at Cambridge. I decided I wanted to make myself useful, do something practical. But no matter how hard I work, no matter how long the hours, I can't escape from what I did and what it meant, the full extent of which I'm only now beginning to grasp. Cee, please write and tell me we can meet. Your sister, Briony.


[in a letter] My darling, Briony found my address somehow and sent a letter. The first surprise was she didn't go up to Cambridge. She's doing nurses' training at my old hospital. I think she may be doing this as some kind of penance. She says she's beginning to get the full grasp of what she did and what it meant. She wants to come and talk to me. [Folds the letter and kisses is] I love you. I'll wait for you. Come back. Come back to me.

[Last lines] I never made that journey to Balham. So the scene in which I confess to them is invented, imagined. And, in fact, could never have happened... .because Robbie Turner died of septicaemia at Bray Dunes on the first of June 1940, the last day of the evacuation...and I was never able to put things right with my sister Cecilia....because she was killed on the 15th of October, 1940 by the bomb that destroyed the gas and water mains above Balham tube station. So, my sister and Robbie were never able to have the time together they both so longed for... and deserved. Which ever since I've... ever since I've always felt I prevented. But what sense of hope or satisfaction could a reader derive from an ending like that? So in the book, I wanted to give Robbie and Cecilia what they lost out on in life. I'd like to think this isn't weakness or... evasion... but a final act of kindness. I gave them their happiness.

[Paul Marshall unwraps a brown paper parcel to reveal a shell of khaki sugar which he taps with his fingernail]
Paul Marshall: There'll be one of these provided in every kitbag of every soldier in the British Army. Sugar casing so it won't melt.
Pierrot: Why should they get free sweets?
Paul Marshall: Because they'll be fighting for their country.
Jackson: Our Daddy says there isn't going to be a war.
Paul Marshall: Your Daddy is wrong.

[Robbie breaks a vase]
Cecelia:You idiot! You realise this is probably the most valuable thing we own.
Robbie:Not any more, it isn't.

[to Briony] 'll be quite honest with you. 'm torn between breaking your neck here

[to Briony]Five years ago you didn't care about telling the truth. You and all your family, you just assumed that for all my education, I was still little better than a servant, still not to be trusted. Thanks to you, they were able to close ranks and throw me to the ****ing wolves.

[to Briony]How old do you have to be before you know the difference between right and wrong? Do you have to be eighteen before you can own up to a lie? There are soldiers of eighteen old enough to be left to die on the side of the road! Did you know that?

[writing] The princess was well aware of his remorseless wickedness. But that made it no easier to overcome the voluminous love she felt in her heart for Sir Romulus. The princess knew instinctively that the one with red hair was not to be trusted. As his young ward dived again and again into the depths of the lake, in search of the enchanted chalice, Sir Romulus twirled his luxuriant mustache. Sir Romulus rode with his two companions, northwards, drawing ever closer to an effulgent sea. So heroic in manner, he appeared so valiant in word... And no could ever guess at the darkness lurking in the black heart of Sir Romulus Turnbull. He was the most dangerous man in the world.

and throwing you down the stairs. [to Briony]Have you any idea what it's like in jail? Course you don't. Tell me, did it give you pleasure to think of me inside?

Dearest Cecilia, the story can resume. The one I had been planning on that evening walk. I can become again the man who once crossed the surrey park at dusk, in my best suit, swaggering on the promise of life. The man who, with the clarity of passion, made love to you in the library. The story can resume. I will return. Find you, love you, marry you and live without shame.

I am very, very sorry for the terrible distress that I have caused you. I am very, very sorry...

If you write a story, you only have to say the word 'castle' and you can see the towers and the woods and the village below... But in a play it's... it all depends on other people.

Love is all very well, but you have to be sensible.

My doctor tells me I have something called vascular dementia; which is essentially a continuous series of tiny strokes. Your brain gradually closes down. You lose words, you lose your memory: which, for a writer, is pretty much the point. That's why I could finally write this book; and why, of course, it's my last novel. Strangely enough, it would be just as accurate to call it my first novel. I wrote several drafts as far back as my time at St. Thomas's Hospital during the war. I just couldn't ever find the way to do it.