Walking Toward Hope: Robbie

What speaks the loudest for Robbie?  The moment in the library and his love for Cecilia OR the five years of hardship since then, including the war around him? Your post should be approximately two or three hundred words and contain at least two properly cited quotations from McEwan’s novel. (Don’t worry about MLA title page format or essay tone; you can write one paragraph, or several, and use “I” in this response.)  You will be receiving up to 15 marks for this posting: 10 for detail, insight, quotations, and addressing the “so what?”; 5 for spelling, grammar, MLA format, etc.  Remember that your deadline is any time Friday, Nov. 21st at 11:59 p.m.

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~ by Ms. Cox on November 17, 2014.

27 Responses to “Walking Toward Hope: Robbie”

  1. Alena Riel
    Ms. D. Cox
    ENG4U1-01

    From reading the novel “Atonement” by Ian McEwan, it stands out that even though Robbie is in a war and his life is in danger; Cecilia and the love Robbie feels for her is more important than everything else. Robbie’s love for Cecilia is so important to him because it’s his only lifeline. Here Robbie is in the middle of a war seeing horrible things that no person could ever handle: “Where the woman and her son had been was a crater…There were no human signs, not a shred of clothing or shoe leather. Mother and child had been vaporized” (McEwan 224-226). You hear so many stories of soldiers who come home and can’t even speak of the things they saw in war. I couldn’t imagine having bullets being aimed at you or having to kill others just to save your own life. And the only thing that keeps Robbie sane, and keeps his mind from thinking of these horrors, is this undying love for Cecilia. Cecilia is Robbies reminder of his old life, a person who misses him while he’s at war, and a reminder of her love. “If innocence seemed elemental here, there was no reason why it should not be back in England… His business was simple. Find Cecilia and love, marry her” (McEwan 214-215). Robbie’s only reason to live, to survive; is for Cecilia and their love for each other.

  2. Kimberlyn Corredor
    Ms. D. Cox
    ENG 4U1- 01

    In the novel Atonement written by Ian McEwan, the part that speaks loudest to Robbie is his love for Cecilia. Robbie leaves the Tallis home, fixed on the events of the day, the library scene. His love for Cecilia has finally been put into words and actions, and he knows the feeling is mutual. However, the pair is ripped apart due to a false accusation and all he is left with is a promise. Robbie is sent to prison and after goes to war. He physically suffers an injury and also watches innocent people, such as a mother and son, die. He says: “ No one would ever know what it was like to be here… the abandoned stores, equipment and vehicles… and the bodies, they were forced to walk in the center of the road” ( McEwan 214). He is living traumatic experiences that will forever change him, however he chooses to focus on his moment shared with Cecelia, before he was taken to prison. Robbie holds onto her promise: “ And there was hope. I’ll wait for you. Come back. There was a chance, just a chance, of getting back… this is why he had to survive” ( McEwan 190). He focuses his entire being on the hope that he’ll be with Cee. His love and passion for her is what keeps him from total insanity. Robbie is able to look beyond his horrible present and focus on the hope of a brighter future with the one he loves. He gets as far as he does in the war, due to the love he has for Cecilia .

  3. Marius Royal
    Ms. D. Cox
    ENG4U1-01

    Throughout the book of Atonement, It becomes evidently clear to me that Robbie’s love for Cecelia is what speaks the loudest to me about the entire book. When part two of Atonement transpires, Robbie is paired with two corporals in France, Nettle and Mace. Although his concern should be focused on the frontlines, all Robbie cares about is his safe return to Cecelia: “He intended to survive, he had one good reason to survive, and he didn’t care whether they tagged along or not” (McEwan 181). His love for Cecelia is the more prevalent and an interesting theme than the war setting, since he is mostly preoccupied in France thinking about Cecilia. That is why the impact of the war is minimal compared to the main focus of love, since the theme of war is a minor setting compared to love. What makes Cecilia and Robbie’s love even more of a complex subject is how Briony plays a role in it. It is in part two Briony’s love for Robbie is uncovered by Robbie remembering in a flashback what Briony told him that she loves him. Showing an interesting new dynamic to Cecilia’s and Robbie’s relationship: “I mean what everybody means when they say it. I love you” (McEwan 218). When you find out the reality of Briony’s feelings for Robbie and his constant love for Cecilia, it is the ubiquitous theme in Atonement.

  4. Chris Celestini
    Ms. Cox
    ENG 4U1

    Ian McEwan’s Atonement is a book about misunderstanding and misinterpreting people’s actions and words, and because of this Robbie Turner is placed into prison and forced to fight in war against his will. Although war and survival is something that is on Robbie’s mind, his love and thoughts for Cecelia overcome most mental trials of war. Cecelia was one of the only people who did not abandon Robbie; she is his only connection to the world he knew before he was sentenced. Robbie’s love for Cecelia is stronger than any other force that drives him to survive; it is his one and only reason to keep on fighting. In the middle of war when rest and health is priority Robbie cannot stop thinking about Cecelia and her letters even with the bombers flying over his head. “I believe in you completely. You are my dearest one, my reason for life. Cee” (McEwan 197). Robbie’s only drive to survive is Cecelia as he is her only reason to live also as she states in her letters. The horrors of war almost overcome Robbie on several occasions, but he keeps his sanity for the sake of Cecelia. “I’ll wait for you was elemental. It was the reason he had survived” (McEwan 249). Even in his dream like state from his infected wound his mind still reverts to thoughts of Cecelia and her being the only reason of his survival.

  5. Mohamed Ibrahim
    Ms. D. Cox
    ENG 4U1-01

    Even though Robbie is at war I think Robbie’s love for Cee is what speaks the loudest to him. His love for Cee is what is making him survive the war, for instance “He intended to survive, he had one good reason to survive, and he didn’t care whether they tagged along or not.”(181) This explains that he didn’t care about anyone else he is on a mission to survive to see Cecilia. Also Robbie is in a middle of a war and is witnessing horrific things like a leg hanging from a tree, and many people are going insane, but Robbie is trying to stay sane for Cee. “When France fell there would be no end of the war in sight. No letters from her, and no way back. No bargaining an early release in return for joining the infantry. The hand on his throat again. The prospect would be of a thousand, or thousands of incarcerated nights, sleeplessly turning over the past, waiting for his life to resume, wondering if it ever would.” (Page 191) This shows Robbie mentality because he decides that going to war means he has a better chance in seeing Cee than prison, even though there is a high possibility that he doesn’t survive in the war.

  6. In the book “Atonement” by Ian McEwan, the moment in the library definitely speaks the loudest for Robbie. He remembers the library and the love that was expressed that night. It’s what keeps him alive and striving for survival. The war does speak to him quite loudly; he begins to lose awareness and thought during his walk to Dunkirk. He considers murdering two innocent men: “Turner intended to shoot the officer through the chest . . . He reached for it, but his gun had done – he couldn’t remember where – and the lieutenant was already walking away” (McEwan 232). There’s also, “But he was in the RAF and the Tommies held him accountable . . . He [Robbie] himself could do something outrageous with his Bowie knife and earn the love of a hundred men” (McEwan 236-237). But he remembers Cecelia, and these memories bellow over the screams of war. Robbie survives for their future, “And there was hope. I’ll wait for you. Come back. There was a chance, just a chance, of getting back. He had her last letter in his pocket and her new address. This is why he had to survive, and use his cunning to stay off the main roads where the circling dive-bombers waited like raptors” (McEwan 190). Although his sanity is lacking, as well as his health, the memory of the library, and his hopes and dreams with Cecilia speak louder to him than anything going on around him. He always remembers her at the end of the day, “Guided by their snores, he shuffled back to his bed. But still sleep could not come, or came only in quick plunges from which he emerged, giddy with thoughts he could not choose or direct . . . Here it was again, his only meeting with her” (McEwan 191).

  7. Emily Deighton
    Ms. D. Cox
    ENG4U1-01

    In the novel “Atonement” written by Ian McEwan, it’s evident that Robbie is having a hard time being apart from Cecilia and being in the middle of a war zone does not help. Towards the beginning of the novel it is clear to Robbie that he loves Cecilia, their love each other stays with them through the entire novel. Robbie has no other focus, but getting back to Cecilia, therefore keeping her promise to the one he will forever love, “And there was hope. I’ll wait for you. Come back. There was a chance, just a chance, of getting back. He had her last letter in his pocket and her new address. This is why he had to survive” (McEwan 190). Another time when Robbie can’t help but think about Cecilia is when Robbie is realizing how lucky he is that he has a girl as lovely as Cecilia to wait for him, “But it was a tranquil sea, and now that he himself was calm, of course he saw how fine it really was that she was waiting. Arithmetic be damned. I’ll wait for you was elemental. It was the reason he survived. It was ordinary way of saying she would refuse all other men. Only you. Comeback.” (McEwan 249). Even if Robbie is sick his my still drifts to the one he loves.

  8. Rebecca Mattatall
    Ms. D Cox
    ENG 4U1-01
    In the novel Atonement, written by Ian McEwan the moment that speaks the loudest to Robbie is the library scene with Cecilia. Robbie is arrested and words are whispered into his ear from Cecilia and those are words that he hangs onto, words of hope that carry him throughout his time spent in prison. Robbie and Cecilia also exchange letters written in code that gives him hope. Robbie is out at war and the only thing he thinks about, and the things that give him hope is Cecilia. “I’m not going to go away”, and “I’ll wait for you. Come back”. (McEwan 197). These are words that Cecilia writes Robbie. Even though he is away at war and surrounded by horrific sights “The others, sensing his movement, turned round, and followed his gaze. It was a leg in a tree”. (McEwan 180). This is just one example of the gruesome horrors of war. After all of the things he’s witnessed and been through, the only thing he cares about and all that matters to him is being safe and try to survive to go home to be with Cecilia. Without a doubt, the thing that speaks to Robbie isn’t the harships of being in jail or signing up to be a solider in the war, it is his one and only love; Cecilia.

  9. Amanda Maier
    Ms. D. Cox
    ENG4U1-01
    In the novel “Atonement”, Ian McEwan explores relationships that that characters have with one another and the impact that these relationships have. Robbie hangs on to the moment in the library and his love for Cecilia. His love for Cecilia is what has been speaking to him the loudest since his time in prison and during the war that he is fighting in. His love for Cecilia is the primary reason that Robbie has for surviving the horrors of war and making it back home alive is to find her: “She was his reason for life, and why he must survive” (McEwan, 197). Robbie may be hanging on too tightly to the few moments that they had together as is seen when Robbie and Cecilia meet in a café for the first time in five years: “This moment had been imagined and desired for too long, and could not measure up” (McEwan, 193). Love can not reasonably last without physically seeing or talking the other person for years. Letters can not produce the same feelings or prove the reality of a relationship the same way that visual contact can. However, Robbie’s love for Cecilia is a good thing for him to think about as it keeps him sane, both in prison and in the war. Robbie knows that Cecilia’s words are crucial to his survival: “’I’ll wait for you’ was elemental. It was the reason he had survived” (McEwan, 249). These four words support Robbie’s will to survive one suffering after another. Robbie’s love for Cecilia is the main factor in his survival and his sanity. Robbie shows us that even the small acts of love and a sincere promise to wait can help someone get through a tough time.

  10. Emily Johnston
    Ms. Cox
    ENG 4U1
    Throughout part two of Ian McEwan’s Atonement, Robbie Turner is impractical in his beliefs that Cecilia Tallis, the love of his life, will wait five years for him and that he will be able to return to his old life. Robbie is a changed person as a consequence of the war. He is no longer the man he once was. He is holding onto “the three simple words” (McEwan 129) that he and Cecilia spoke to each other in the library more than five years ago; yet he does not consider the changes a person undergoes surviving war. Robbie constantly reminds himself of Cecilia’s letters, quoting her,”I’ll wait for you” (McEwan 213).Overlooking his transformation during the war, Robbie believes that if he survives the war he will be able to have a future with Cecilia. The pain and death of war scarred him for life, and the narrator states that for Robbie, “Periodically something slipped… No responsibility, no memory of three hours before, no idea of what he was about, where he was going, what his plan was” (McEwan 232). Robbie has changed to the point he cannot even recognize himself or his desires; including his life with Cecilia. The narrator states that Robbie believes, “The words were not meaningless, but they didn’t touch him now. It was clear enough- one person waiting for another was like an arithmetical sum, and just as empty as emotion” (McEwan 246). This quotation shows that Robbie understands his hopes are not sensible. Robbie hangs onto Cecilia’s words and he lives in the library moment as a comfort and a source of hope; yet her words no longer affect him, as he is not the person he once was when he loved her. Robbie needs to believe that he has a reason to survive, otherwise he has no reason to fight for his life. Robbie’s hopes that Cecilia will wait for him are impractical, yet necessary as the war has changed him into a different person. Without his belief in her love, he would not have a reason to exist.

  11. When reading Part Two of Ian McEwan’s novel Atonement, the themes of love and war are constants in the life of Robbie Turner. Love should be a fleeting thought, a “pathetic hope”(McEwan 77) for the soldier while he is in the midst of World War II; a gruesome scene where “the sight of a corpse became a banality.”(McEwan 213). However, this is not the case. The war takes second place in his mind to the ever present thoughts of old letters and fond memories of a very short romance with Cecelia Tallis. His love for Cee becomes his solace, she is “his reason for life, and why he must survive.”(McEwan 197). Going into war, knowing you may die, and having to watch others around you face this fate in the most wretched ways possible, would take a toll on anyone’s mental state. It is for this reason that hope in his and Cee’s love is so important to Robbie. Had he not detached himself from the present circumstances by holding onto the frail promise of true love from 5 years ago, his state of mind would be drastically altered; many soldiers face post traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses following the time they serve. Robbie undoubtedly faces difficulties with his own sanity from the things he experienced on his journey to the beach -such as the stuka bombing- but he consistently turns to his love as an anchor and pulls through. War is prevalent in Robbie Turner’s present life in Part Two, but he needs love to pull through these hard times, and so it consumes every aspect of his thoughts.

  12. Eric Zeng
    Ms. Cox
    ENG 4U1
    The second part of ‘Atonement’ is the effect of war on people. Being in a total state of war, Robbie was given the chance to exit prison early to earn freedom by fighting in the WWII. This gives him a chance to see Cecilia sooner. Throughout his travels he seemed to be distracted by Cecilia. During his retreat to Dunkirk, he was driven by several factors to keep moving despite his hunger and thirst: “In one pan of the scales, his wound, thirst, the blister, tiredness, the heat, the aching in his feet and legs, the Stukas, the distance, the Channel; in the other, ‘I’ll wait for you’, and the memory of when she said it” (McEwan 213). He should put his health more important of his scale. Being able to survive and live another day to see Cecilia should be more of a top concern than hanging onto the last words she said to him and distracting him from noticing his own well-being. For example, while walking he should be on the lookout for enemy snipers and bombers that are direct and immediate threats to his life and possibility of a reunion with Cecilia. As well, he should at least attempt to clean his wound to make sure his wound is not infected. He becomes sick because of his carelessness: “Beneath the floor still seemed to list, the switch to the rhythm of a steady march, and once again Turner found himself too afflicted by impressions, too fevered, too exhausted to sleep. Through the material of his coat he felt for the bundle of her letters. ‘I’ll wait for you, come back.’ ” (McEwan 246). He knows he has an infection and a fever caused by that infection. Being a studious person, he should at least have the common sense of checking his wounds. Since his purpose to go through hell on Earth to get to Cecilia, he should take care of himself properly so he can survive. I believe Robbie should pay more attention to the present rather than dream about his desired future. Being reminded of Cecilia and his purpose is also a distraction from his purpose. His focus should be entirely on the present and on the war unfolding around him.

  13. Jeffrey Zhou
    Ms. D. Cox
    ENG 4U1-01

    It can be argued that Robbie has but one reason to survive his journey with the British armed forces: to reunite with the love of his life, Cecilia Tallis. Ever since the two have confessed their undeniably passionate love for each other, there is hardly any other practical reason that would motivate Robbie to survive the hardships of war at all costs. As Robbie embarks on his adventure to find safety at the solemn beaches of Dunkirk, his mind often drifts off to the love letters he and Cecilia have exchanged. Robbie’s memory of the quick, but sentimental moment in the library fuels his stubborn yet admirable determination to return to England, where he is desperate to show his love for Cecilia in hopes of developing their relationship. At the end of each of her love letters, Cecilia writes, “I’ll wait for you. Come back” (McEwan 190), and these six promising words have repeatedly appeared in Robbie’s mind. These words show so much promise and assurance of her love, that Robbie cannot help but to believe “there was a chance, just a chance, of getting back” (McEwan 190). Not only does he tie himself to the most important person of his life by keeping “her last letter in his pocket and her new address” (McEwan 190), Robbie uses his memories with Cecilia as his connection to sanity so often that “their few minutes in the library, the kiss in Whitehall – were bleached colorless through overuse” (McEwan 213). By creating a one-dimensional state of mind filled with only memories and thoughts of his love for Cecilia, Robbie’s desperation to be with her once again is clearly his motivation for survival. In hindsight, the motive that speaks loudest to Robbie is part of any typical love affair between two people who have tested the boundaries of romance for the first time.

  14. Kamilah Gure
    Ms. D. Cox
    ENG 4U1-01

    Throughout the novel Atonement, the moment which spoke the loudest for Robbie was his love for Cecilia and the moment he made love to her in the library. However these events were not immediately instant. During the beginning of the novel it states how Robbie and Cecilia knew each other for many years, however he did not actually pay any particular attention towards her. “Robbie had stared at the women, the girl he had always known, thinking the change was entirely in himself” (McEwan 129). Robbie Turner knew of Cecilia, however many aspects such as an imbalance of social class kept them away from each other, making it immensely difficult for Robbie to express a love for Cecilia in which he doesn’t even feel he has, yet. Robbie and Cee are talking when a vase then falls into the water. Before Robbie could unbutton his blouse, Cecilia is already completely undressed and diving into the fountain to retrieve the pieces that had fallen. “In my thoughts I make love to you all day long” (McEwan 80). After witnessing Cecilia coming out of the fountain, Robbie’s passionate lust for her was instant. The way her body moved and the swing of her hair immediately aroused him, not knowing that after this moment it would be a turn for the worst for him. Robbie and Cee began talking more frequently. Taking their relationship even further and becoming physical; then leading to the library scene which caused Robbie’s life to turn for the worst. After he had been accused of rape and had the choice of being sent to jail or fighting in the war, Robbie choses being sent of to war, only to be closer to Cecilia. Robbie continuously writes to her expressing the imenseless amount of love he has for her and trying everything in his power to make a safe return, just so he can have the opportunity to be with her once again. In this case it showed how actions truly spoke louder than words.

  15. Frances Johnson
    Ms. D. Cox
    ENG4U1-01

    From reading the novel ‘Atonement’ by Ian McEwan, it is clear that Robbies only reason for surviving the war is to be with Cecilia again. In part two Robbie and two other men are walking for miles to try and reach the beach where they will be rescued. Robbie has his map and compass and thats is all he needs. He has his mind set on returning home to Cecilia and thinks of nothing else: “He intended to survive, he had one good reason to survive, and he didn’t care whether they tagged along or not” (McEwan 181). Although Robbie’s thoughts should be on the war his motivation to be with Cecilia is what keeps him sane. Robbie is obviously having a hard time being away from her. The last letter that was sent to him before the post delivery was shut down is kept in his pocket. Cecilia ended this letter the same way she has ended all her previous letters: “I love you. I’ll wait for you. Come back” (McEwan 201). This is a constant reminder to Robbie why he must keep moving forward. Robbie knows he must return to Cecilia not only for himself but for her too. She has cut herself off from her family and the only thing they have left is each other.

  16. Taylor Lott
    Ms. D. Cox
    ENG 4UI-01

    The war is unbearably loud for Robbie, but he uses his few memories of whom he loves most in attempt to drown it out. Robbie knows that the only way out of the war, is through it, and uses Cecilia waiting for him as his main motivation not to give up. In the novel it feels as though Robbie is slowly inching his way toward Cecilia, as opposed to escaping his recent past. Even when Robbie was in jail, his only light at the end of the tunnel was Cecilia. Before Robbie meets Cee at the café he reflects on his time in prison: “Cecilia wrote every week. In love with her, willing himself to stay sane for her, he was naturally in love with her words” (McEwan 191). Here Robbie shows that the only thing that kept his sanity through prison was Cecilia, and the idea that she is still out there, waiting for him. Later on, during the war Cecilia is his only driving force to keep him moving. On the walk to Dunkirk, Robbie thinks: “I’ll wait for you, and the memory of when she had said it, which he had come to treat like a sacred site. Also, the fear of capture. His most sensual memories—their few minutes in the library, the kiss in Whitehall—were bleached colorless through overuse. He knew by heart certain passages from her letters, he had revisited their tussle with the vase by the fountain, he remembered the warmth from her arm at the dinner when the twins went missing. These memories sustained him, but not so easily” (McEwan 213). Here Robbie shows that he repeatedly thinks about Cee to block out the overwhelming fear of his situation, and that they help but just barely. Robbie may be holding on to the few moments they had together too tightly, but he really doesn’t have anything else to hang on to in the toughest spots. The war is so unbearable that everyone needs something to give them hope, even if it is just a memory to escape to.

  17. Robbie and Cecilia’s love story is epic. It alone gives great reason to read Atonement. To have a love so strong that is budding and then ripped from your arms is an unfathomable torture. This is what happened to Robbie and Cee. Even though Robbie is in the middle of a war that will go down in history, he can only think of Cee and getting home to her. She is motivation and his distraction. On his way to Dunkirk, he thinks “In one pan of the scales, his wound, thirst, the blister, tiredness, the heat, the aching in his feet and legs, the Stukas, the distance, the Channel; in the other, ‘I’ll wait for you’, and the memory of when she said it” (McEwan 213). Robbie’s reality is Cee, and the morning by the fountain, and the incident in the library. His reality is the single kiss they shared at the bus stop. Maybe its a good thing that he has this distraction, otherwise the war might truly turn him mad. He might give up if not for her. “I’ll wait for you was elemental. It was the reason he had survived” (McEwan 249). Robbie’s physical reality is the march to Dunkirk, but his mental reality is Cee.

  18. Susana Liu
    Ms. D. Cox
    ENG 4UI-01

    Part two of Ian McEwan’s novel “Atonement” follows Robbie Turner as a soldier in France during World War II. While Robbie retreats for safety, to the beach in Dunkirk, the reader is given an outlook into his thoughts, mentality and fragile state. Along the way, Robbie encounters many traumatizing horrors of the war that affect his being. However, reoccurring thoughts of Cecilia show that she has also had an effect in his life. Most of Robbie’s memories focus on his love for Cecilia and this is what speaks the loudest to him. From her written letters, Cecilia’s words provide Robbie with a sense of hope and a chance of returning back to her, like how it was in his former life before imprisonment. The recollection of Cee sustains Robbie throughout the war because she is his intention for surviving: “He knew these last lines by heart and mouthed them now in the darkness. My reason for life. Not living, but life. That was the touch. And she was his reason for life, and why he must survive” (McEwan 197). In thinking of Cecilia, Robbie rediscovers old ambitions and pleasure within himself. This type of reflection preserves Robbie’s sanity. He is in another mindset which forms an escape from the war that surrounds him. Even unintentionally, Cecilia remains on his mind: “But still sleep would not come, or came only in quick plunges from which he emerged, giddy with thoughts he could not choose or direct. They pursued him, the old themes. Here it was again, his only meeting with her” (McEwan 191). Robbie’s impression of Cee indicates how deeply moved he is by her person. His love for Cecilia overcomes the hardship of war, as this is what speaks louder to Robbie. There is a deep passion that Robbie feels in loving Cecilia and judging by the letters, the two characters share a committed love and a promise on both ends.

  19. Although Robbie is at war, I think what speaks loudest to him is, and has always been, Cecilia. Despite all the hardships surrounding him for the five years after his arrest, Cecilia remains the main thing in his thoughts. All throughout the war she seems to be what keeps him going, with her letters and the few memories he has of them together. Robbie is using Cecilia as a way to keep himself distracted from what is actually going on around him. The only contact he has with her is the letters they send, which seems to be enough to keep him going: “In love with her, willing himself to stay sane for her, he was naturally in love with her words,” (McEwan 191). She is his motivation to keep going and to survive, because he knows when it is over, he can finally be with her. It may seem ridiculous to be holding on to such a distant memory (the library scene), but it is really all he has to grasp. It was the first time Robbie and Cecilia were able to show their love for each other, and it is the best memory he has of her. For some it may seem unrealistic to hold on to this idea, but for Robbie it is what keeps him going. Cee gave up her life for him; she abandoned her family and explains why to Robbie: “‘They turned on you, all of them, even my father. When they wrecked your life they wrecked mine,’” (McEwan 196). She is holding on to him just as much as he is her.

  20. Kelly Millar
    Ms. D. Cox
    ENG 4U1-01

    Although Robbie is at war, I think what speaks loudest to him is, and has always been, Cecilia. Despite all the hardships surrounding him for the five years after his arrest, Cecilia remains the main thing in his thoughts. All throughout the war she seems to be what keeps him going, with her letters and the few memories he has of them together. Robbie is using Cecilia as a way to keep himself distracted from what is actually going on around him. The only contact he has with her is the letters they send, which seems to be enough to keep him going: “In love with her, willing himself to stay sane for her, he was naturally in love with her words,” (McEwan 191). She is his motivation to keep going and to survive, because he knows when it is over, he can finally be with her. It may seem ridiculous to be holding on to such a distant memory (the library scene), but it is really all he has to grasp. It was the first time Robbie and Cecilia were able to show their love for each other, and it is the best memory he has of her. For some it may seem unrealistic to hold on to this idea, but for Robbie it is what keeps him going. Cee gave up her life for him; she abandoned her family and explains why to Robbie: “‘They turned on you, all of them, even my father. When they wrecked your life they wrecked mine,’” (McEwan 196). She is holding on to him just as much as he is her.

  21. Matthew Charlton
    Mrs. D. Cox
    ENG4U1-01
    In the novel Atonement by Ian McEwan, it is apparent that Robbie is holding onto the idea of the one woman he loved, Cecilia, to make his way through the horrors of war. This is apparent through the fact that he enlisted due to the fact that it would get him out of prison faster, and therefore into Cecilia’s arms faster despite the high chance of him dying. For example, as Robbie is making his way to Dunkirk he is followed by a pair of corporals but pays them absolutely no mind, “He intended to survive. he had one good reason to survive, and he didn’t care whether they tagged along or not” (McEwan, 181). This is relevant as these two men are helping keep Robbie alive, yet he does not care for them anyway, he only cares for his one love, Cecilia to push him through to Dunkirk. Another such example of his drive to survive being created by his desire for Cecilia is when he is in a dream-like state later in part 2, and thinking of the letters and small conversations he had with Cecilia, one such example is when he is remembering 4 specific words in one of these letters and how he needs these words to survive, “‘I’ll wait for you’ was elemental, it was the reason he survived” (McEwan, 249). These four words alone are what pushes Robbie forward towards surviving this hellish ordeal that is World War 2. So, Robbie’s love for Cecilia is the one true thing that has kept the man alive and driving him forward towards the end of the war and the beginning of his new life.

  22. Throughout the novel the character Robbie turner must endeavor varieties of horrific tragedies that are unimaginable. Robbie was dealt the worst possible hand of cards, and somehow manages to execute them perfectly. From being misinterpreted, accused, thrown in jail, and even getting shot in combat, Robbie’s love for Cee is no doubt the most loudest thing in Ians McEwan’s book Atonement. “It was the reason he [Robbie] has survived. it was the ordinary way of saying she would refuse all other men. Only you. Come back.”(249) I strongly believe that the letters between Robbie and Cee is the only materialistic item that keeps him sane. many times Robbie’s consciousness has been pushed to the line of insanity, but Cee continues to help keep him sane. There is nothing man will not attempt when great enterprises hold out the promise of great rewards.

  23. Mackenzie Addison
    Mrs. D. Cox
    ENG 4UI-01

    In Ian McEwan’s novel Atonement, it is clear to me that Robbie’s only motivation to survive the war is his desire to be with Cecilia again. Despite the fact he’s in the war, Cecilia never leaves his thoughts, even though he only has a few memories with her, that’s all he really needs. “His most sensual memories-their few minutes in the library, the kiss in Whitehall-were bleached colorless through overuse” (McEwan 213). Robbie says this meaning he always thinks of her and the memories they had years ago, even when he should be focused on the war. He keeps her letters inside of his jacket as a way of keeping her with him the entire way. “Cecilia wrote every week. In love with her, willing himself to stay sane for her, he was naturally in love with her words” (McEwan 191). In a way I think that Robbie always reads her letters and thinks of her as a way of blurring out the realities of what is happening around him. In reality, everyone needs something to hold onto despite the enormity of the memory. Robbie’s love for Cecilia is what speaks loudest to me as he uses her to motivate him to survive the war.

  24. Sophie Blouin
    Ms. Cox
    ENG 4U1-01

    In the novel Atonement by Ian McEwan, it is obvious that the thing that speaks loudest to Robbie while he is in the war is his love for Cecilia. His love for Cee is what gives him the will to live and to continue on, on his march to Dunkirk. “There was a chance, just a chance, of getting back. He had her last letter in his pocket and her new address. This is why he had to survive…” (McEwan 190) She is the reason that he is alive. It is Cee that is pushing him forward each day even though is in such a horrible situation. Even though she is not there with him, and he is unable to see her, he still thinks back on the memories that they share and reads the letters that she wrote him and those are enough to keep him going. Another reason why I think that it is Cee that is keeping him going and not letting him be so effected by the war is because she makes it seem as though its not real. As though it is all a dream. “Come back.” (McEwan 190) Cee makes Robbie believe so strongly in him and in her that, that is more of his reality than the war is. The idea of himself and Cee and their shared love for each other is so much stronger than anything else, that even though they aren’t together the idea of them being back together seems more real to him than what is going on around him. Cee is the only thing getting him through, he may be told he is marching to Dunkirk for the boats, but he is truly marching to Dunkirk for Cee.

  25. Matt Montreuil
    Ms Cox
    Through reading Atonement by Ian McEwan, it becomes clear to me that what speaks loudest for Robbie is the fact that despite only being able to see his love Cecilia one time in his five years of hardship he is able to cling on to the one thing left keeping him alive: Hope. Here he is in the middle of being questioned by the two Corporals “He didn’t owe them any explanations. He intended to survive, he had one good reason to survive, and he didn’t care whether they tagged along or not” (McEwan 181). That reason is Cecilia, the reader is hinted towards that. If Cecilia was not alive Robbie would have no reason to live and as a result he may have already killed himself or with a lesser desire to live gotten killed by now. “If innocence seemed elemental here, there was no reason why it should not be back in England… His business was simple. Find Cecilia and love, marry her” (McEwan 214-215). He does not overdo this love, he’s simply taking it in because if he didn’t he would be doomed to die.

  26. In Ian McEwan’s novel atonement, I believe that Robbie’s love for Cee speaks the loudest. “She was his reason for life, and why he must survive”(McEwan,197) This quote specifically states his drive for survival is to be with Cecilia. He goes through physical and emotional trauma while in war and truly has no reason to be there since he was wrongly accused of rape. Most people could take the high road and just give up but every time Cecilia crosses his mind it gives him the motivation to make it out in one piece so he can see the love of his life again. On page 213 he is dealing with lots of physical pain and the fear of Stukas and the long road ahead but the memory “I’ll wait for you”(McEwan,213) makes him recall his memories of the library theme and that all he has to do is make it back to the beach so he can get rescued and his love that is waiting for him back in the homeland. Despite the war and trauma in the present the thought of seeing Cecilia in the future is his drive to overcome all the problems he is dealing with.

  27. For Robbie ‘Guvnor’ Turner, love is not only the most important thing, it’s the only thing. His love for Cecilia Tallis has become his reason for living. Robbie is in the midst of a bloodbath, literally, and all he can think of is his beloved Cee. “In love with her, willing himself to stay sane for her, he was naturally in love with her words” (McEwan 191). Robbie has kept every letter Cee wrote to him while he was in prison and at training camp and rereads them over and over frequently to keep his mind at bay. Robbie’s reality is Cecilia. He loves her and only wants to survive to be with her; “His business was simple. Find Cecilia and love her [which is clear as day he does], marry her, and live without shame” (McEwan 215). The fact that he went to prison and is now a soldier in the war means nothing to him besides the fact it’s stopping him from being with Cee. I think Robbie could easily have just been away from Cee at medical school in an alternate story and still have this ache for her as much as he does now, it would just be a less dangerous situation. If something’s stopping him from being with Cecilia, he doesn’t care what or who it is, only that he’s being stopped. So to formally answer the question, Cecilia Tallis always has and will speak louder to Robbie Turner than the situations he’s put in.

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