Briony’s best intentions, formed and driven by romantic heroism, catapult her into a false act, with tragic consequences. Atonement is needed. She eschews college to become a wartime nurse and then a novelist. On her first break from hospital duty, in 1940, she finds those with whom she must make amends, but her efforts are rebuffed. Without notification of a change in authorship, this chapter is signed, "B.T. 1999." Later, Briony is revisiting the Imperial War Museum in the former chapel of old Bedlam Hospital; "where the unhinged once came to pray, scholars now gather to research the collective insanity of war." She has written about the exodus at Dunkirk and, we learn, more. McEwan’s descriptions (or are they Briony’s?) of Robbie’s war experiences are classics of evocative realism. When Robbie, lost, exhausted, and with a piece of shrapnel in his side, looks suddenly up into the nose of a strafing Stuka and is blown several feet by an exploding bomb, the reader tastes the mud and snot in his mouth. When Briony, the neophyte nurse, frantically works an overcrowded ward full of freshly mangled soldiers with missing limbs and oozing brains, death is so vividly portrayed the reader experiences Briony’s horror and helplessness.