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Atonement quotes

31 total quotes

Briony Tallis
Cecelia Tallis
Other Characters
Robbie Turner

Briony: It was Robbie, wasn't it? [Silence] Robbie.
Lola: You saw him.
Briony: Like you said, he's a sex maniac. And you don't even know what happened before dinner. I caught him attacking my sister in the library. I don't know what he'd have done, if I hadn't come in...
Lola: You actually saw him.
Briony: Of course I did. Plain as day.
Lola: He came up behind me. He pushed me to the ground and then he put his hand over my eyes. I couldn't actually, I never actually...
Lola: Briony Listen, 've known him all my life. And I saw him.
Lola: Because I couldn't say for sure.
Briony: Well, I can. And I will.

Cecilia: There isn't much time. Robbie has to report for duty at six and he's got a train to catch. So sit down. There are some things you're going to do for us.
[Briony and Cecilia sit in the kitchen. Robbie leans on the table, looming over them]
Robbie: You'll go to your parents as soon as you can and tell them everything they need to know to be convinced that your evidence was false. You'll go and see a solicitor and make a statement and have it signed and witnessed and send copies to us. Is that clear?
Cecilia : Yes.
Robbie: Then you'll write a detailed letter to me, explaining everything that led up to you saying you saw me by the lake.
Cecilia: Try and include whatever you can remember of what Danny Hardman was doing that night.
Briony: Hardman?
Robbie: Yes!
Briony: It wasn't Danny Hardman. It was Leon's friend, Marshall.
[Cecilia and Robbie look at her, astonished]
:Cecilia: I don't believe you.
Briony: He's married Lola; I've just come from their wedding.
[Silence. Finally, Robbie exhales the breath he's been holding, Cecilia looks across at him]
Cecilia: Lola won't be able to testify against him now. He's immune.
[Robbie straightens up and turns away, grappling with a riot of emotions; silence; finally, Briony stands up and speaks, very formal]
Briony: I'm very, very sorry for the terrible distress that I have caused. I'm very, very sorry.
Robbie: Just do as I have asked of you. Write it all down. Just the truth. No rhymes, no embellishments, no adjectives. And then leave us be.
Briony: I will. I promise.

Robbie: Come on, pal. You should be getting dressed.
Briony: If I fell in the river, would you save me?
Robbie: Of course.
[Briony jumps into the water and Robbie dives after her; eventually, he pulls her out of the water and drops her near the bank]

Briony: Thank you, thank you, thank you...
Robbie: That was an incredibly bloody stupid thing to do.
Briony: I wanted you to save me.
Robbie: Don't you know how easily you could have drowned?
Briony: You saved me.
Robbie: You stupid child! You could have killed us both! Is that your idea of a joke?
[she looks at him for a moment, shocked by his tone, but defiant nonetheless]
Briony: I want to thank you for saving my life. I'll be eternally grateful to you.
[he strides away angrily, into the woods, leaving Briony disconsolate amidst the cow parsley]

Cecilia: [crying] I don't know how I could've been so ignorant about myself... so... so stupid. And you know what I'm talking about, don't you? You knew before I did.
'Robbie: Why're you crying?
Cecilia: Don't you know?
Robbie: Yes, I know exactly. [kisses her]

Tommy Nettle: No one speaks the ****ing lingo out here. You can't say 'pass the biscuit' or 'where's me hand grenade?', they just shrug. Cause they hate us too. I mean, that's the point. We fight in France and the French ****ing hate us. Make me Home Secretary and I'll sort this out in a ****ing minute. We got India and Africa, right? Jerry can have France and Belgium and whatever else they want. Who's ****ing ever been to Poland? It's all about room, Empire. They want more empire, give 'em this shithole, we keep ours and it's Bob's your uncle and Fanny's your ****ing aunt! Think about it.
Tommy Nettle: I says to him: "you can sit round here twiddling your thumbs, waiting to get your head blown off if you want to, 'm off out of it"...

Briony: Lola, can I tell you something? Something really terrible?
Lola: Yes please.
Briony: What's the worst word you can possibly imagine?

Robbie: Have you been in touch with your family?
Cecilia: No I told you I wouldn't. Leon waited outside the hospital last week. I just pushed past him.
Robbie: Cee, you don't owe me anything.
Cecilia: Robbie didn't you read my letters? Had I been allowed to visit you? Had they let me, every day, I would have been there every day.
Robbie: Yes but, if all we have rests on a few moments in a library three and a half years ago then I am not sure, I don't know...
Cecilia: Robbie, look at me, come back, come back to me.

Jackson:: When can we go home?
Lola:: Soon.
Pierrot: We can't go home: it's a divorce!
Lola: How dare you say that?
Pierrot: Well, it's true.
[Lola grabs Peirrot by the shoulders and shakes him.]
Lola: You will never ever use that word again. Do you understand?

[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.

Pierrot: It's boring how everything ends in O. Polo and Aero.
Jackson: And Oxo and Brillo.

Paul Marshall:Bite it. You have to bite it.

Cecelia: :[after reading Robbie's letter] I suppose he's what you might call eligible.
Leon: Rather!
Cecelia: He certainly seems to think he's the cat's pyjamas. Which is odd, considering he has pubic hair growing out of his ears.

[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.

Fiona: It says in the paper the army are making strategic withdrawals.
Briony: I saw that. It's a euphemism for retreat.

Cecilia: My brother and I found the two of them down by the lake. Small Text
Police Inspector: You didn't see anyone else?
Cecilia: I wouldn't necessarily believe everything Briony tells you. She's rather fanciful.