The novel is first set in the year 1935 in Britain. At that time, Britain under the rule of King George V and Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald. World War II has not started yet, but tensions between the allies and axis powers are very present at this time. In that same year, Italy invaded Ethiopia and the UK government announces that the Royal Air Force is to be tripled within the next two years. Surrey, the county where the Tallis house is located, is a bordered with Greater London. Prior to the year 1935, Surrey was famous for manufacturing gunpowder and automobiles. However, after World War I, the gunpowder industry in Surrey diminished and fell. Like most of the United Kingdom, there are numerous amounts of churches and hospitals located. Also, Surrey can be seen as the wealthy county of Britain where there are many estates and mansions. This county has played its own role in many other pieces of classical literature. It is shown in Charles Dickens The Pickwork Papers, H.G. Wells's War of the Worlds, and Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. Other things to note for Part 1 of the novel is that Cambridge University is the second oldest school in England, after Oxford, established in 1209. Cambridge has been highly regarded as one of the best universities of all time, since it's conception. The University, at the time, did not accept women as full-time students. Women had the ability to sit at lectures and take exams and earn a degree that was, supposedly, in equal value to a Bachelor's degree.
Part 2, of Atonement, then takes place in the countryside of France during the years of World War II, 1940 to be more specific. The war began in the year 1939 immediately after Nazi Germany invaded Poland. On May 10, 1940, Germany made its advance on France. Germany ripped apart France and completely overran them. (It's funny to note that when Hitler toured Paris, after his victory, the elevator operator of the Eiffel Tower purposely broke the elevator, forcing Hitler to take the stairs up to the top.) When France was undoubtedly losing, the Britain Expeditionary Force, along with some French division, were called to evacuate and head to Dunkirk just 16 days after the battle began. In the nine-day period where the troops would be shipped back to Britain, over 300,000 troops were saved.
Part 3 takes place in the same year, but the focus has been shifted to London. Hospitals in London primarily served the wounded soldiers of the war. Nurses were trained to protect the patients for nearly any scenario including the case of a nuclear fallout. One scenario would be if they are exposed to different gasses, if exposed, the nurses would place patients in a gas refuge room with gas masks and a cup of tea.
- This needs an extremely thorough proofreading -- fragments, misspellings, and frequent shifts between past and present tenses.
- Good set of information here. You were right, I think, to divide it up into parts, and the information you give here is helpful in understanding the text.