Robbie is now in the middle of a war, fighting his way back to Cecelia…
1. After sharing such brief emotional encounters on the fateful day, and only exchanging muted letters while Robbie was in prison for three years, how did you expect Robbie and Cecelia’s first official meeting at the cafe to go? How do you think the characters felt? Was the brevity a way of saving whatever sort of relationship they had formed?
2. Cecelia’s letters were the single driving force of Robbie’s fight for survival. If she were not in his life do you suspect he would have lasted that long?
3. While Robbie was in prison and away in France, their relationship became a strange and fanciful one, only existing on paper. Do you think idealizations of what ‘could be’ were the only real objects of substance in their relationship? Without which, would it cease to function?
4. The use of imagery so detailed in Part One was more or less left out in this part of the book. Do you agree? We only see the world through Robbie’s dazed and injured perspective. It is glazed over and begins to fade the farther along we go, once we reach the beach and the town by the Channel. What did you feel the odds of Robbie getting on a boat would be at this point?
5. Why do you believe Robbie’s companions, Mace and Nettle, followed him so devotedly?
6. The image of a child’s leg in a tree was a very powerful tool used by McEwan. How did this image relate to Robbie’s past life, and what kind of feelings would it have evoked in him?
7. Hearing through Cecelia’s letter that Broiny wishes to make amends, Robbie considers the implications. He justifies her previous actions as governed by jealousy, and a childhood crush. Do you think this played a role in the happenings of that day or is Robbie incorrect at classifying a child’s imaginative, dramatic and fanciful view of her world? Would you forgive Briony if you were in Robbie’s position?
Stay tuned for Part Three and London, 1999 Questions soon!
-Miss Hailey Jane