Welcome to Week 3 of the Online Book Club discussion of Atonement.
This section was so hard to read! I felt like I was experiencing the horrors of war right beside Robbie. I had to push myself to keep going. How did you feel about this section? Wasn't it so hard to read about all of the things he had to do, all the while knowing that he was injured and was not getting the medical attention he needed?
When I first started reading this section, I missed the fact that he was injured. His wound was barely mentioned at the beginning of the section. And, when it was mentioned, it seemed pretty insignificant. It seemed like something he could have gotten fixed pretty easily. Why didn't he tell anyone? I would think that he would want medical attention because then, maybe, he would be able to go home? I've read through the second section a couple of times, and I can't find anything that says why Robbie doesn't ask for help. Does he not realize how bad his injury is? All I kept reading was that he wanted privacy, so that he could inspect his injury. I wish he could have found some, so he could have realized how badly injured he was.
In his musings, Robbie describes the relationship he had with Cecilia after he was taken to prison. He describes their loving letters, and then he describes their disappointing meet up after he was released. It totally made sense that they were awkward with each other after being apart for so long. And, I can imagine it would be weird to see each other in person after corresponding over letter for so long. Were you surprised that they wanted to keep their relationship going? They didn't have much of a romantic relationship before he went to prison. It was a little surprising to me that they were so dedicated to each other. It's good that Robbie had memories of Cecilia to think about, though, because I think they helped him keep going through the horrors of war.
Robbie mentions that he and Cecilia believe that Danny Hardman is the one responsible for the attack against Lola. What do you think?
This section was so different from the first. It was almost hard to keep track of what was going on because Robbie shifted so quickly from thinking about the past to experiencing the present. Was it hard for you to understand what exactly he was doing? Did you have a hard time keeping up with all of the details? Did you enjoy this section, or did you wish this section was more like the first with chapter breaks and more typical narration?
What war experiences stuck out the most to you while reading this section? I just couldn't believe all of the chaos. Robbie was dodging bombs and trying to save civilians and helping with the injured--all without really taking a breath. It was just constant movement and destruction and pain. I don't think I would have the will to keep going if I were faced with similar circumstances.
What do you make of the last part of the section? Do you think Robbie is ok?
By the end of the section, we know that Robbie eventually made it to Dunkirk. If you would like to read more about that battle to understand Robbie's circumstances a bit better, check out this article. And, if you'd like to see how the Dunkirk section plays out in the movie version, check out the clip below.
I hope you're ready and excited to finish the book for next week! I can't wait to hear your thoughts and impressions of this second section in the comments.