Briony is the novel’s protagonist. At the novel’s outset, she is a precocious girl with a gift for writing. However she is also a petulant child, both naïve and certain of her understanding, and her… (read full character analysis)
The bright, attractive, and ambitious son of Grace Turner, who is the Tallis family’s charlady. Robbie is studying at Cambridge to be a doctor, and his education is funded by the Tallises, who treat… (read full character analysis)
Briony’s free-spirited sister. Early in the novel she realizes, somewhat to her surprise, that she is in love with Robbie Turner. When Briony’s incrimination of Robbie alienates him from the Tallis family, Cecilia cuts… (read full character analysis)
Briony’s blasé cousin, two years her senior. She is raped by Paul Marshall, and is so shaken by the assault that she accepts Briony’s assertion that Robbie Turner was the culprit even though it… (read full character analysis)
Briony and Cecilia’s mother, and the wife of Jack Tallis. She is a relatively hands-free parent, in part because she suffers from debilitating migraines. She is something of a snob, and less enthusiastic than… (read full character analysis)
Briony and Cecilia’s father, and the husband of Emily Tallis. Mr. Tallis is an absent parent because his work as a high-ranking government bureaucrat consumes most of his time, particularly during the tensions leading… (read full character analysis)
One of Robbie’s two comrades during his time fighting in France and Belgium. To write Robbie’s portion of the story, Briony researches Robbie’s wartime experience by finding and communicating with Nettle.
Another of Robbie’s comrades during the war.
One of Briony’s fellow nursing novices, with whom Briony strikes up a friendship. Fiona is from a well-to-do London family.
Leon is the oldest Tallis child. He plays a small role in the book; he is visiting home with his friend Paul Marshall when Paul rapes Lola, and he reappears as a doddering old man at the Tallis family reunion that ends the novel.
Briony’s stern supervisor at the hospital where Briony is first positioned.
A Tallis family servant whom Cecilia and Robbie wrongly suspect of being Lola’s true rapist.
Danny Hardman’s father. He is a Tallis family servant.
A Tallis family servant who helps around the kitchen.
Hermione and Cecil Quincey
The parents of Lola, Pierrot, and Jackson. Hermione is Emily Tallis’s sister, and she and Cecil are embroiled in an unpleasant, public divorce. For this reason, their children are sent to live with the Tallises.
Robbie Turner's mother, and the charlady (cleaning woman) for the Tallis family.
Robbie Turner's father and Grace Turner's husband, who quit his job as the Tallis gardener and abandoned his family.