The novel Atonement is a novel that brings out the experiences of various characters that are related to one another differently. Lola is one among the major characters in this novel. She experiences a series of events while living with the Tallies, including rape. Briony’s act of convincing everyone including the authorities that Robbie had been the rape perpetrator to Lola adds up to the build of traumatic issues within her. This is a novel that deeply analyzes a family setting in to bring out the experiences of those who partially belong to such a setting. Lola is one among these people, and through her experiences, one gets to understand the tribulations sustained by girls of her age in the time that the novel is set.
Lola arrives at the house of the Tallises at fifteen with her two brothers in the year 1935. This happens after a divorce between her parents, and Lola imagines how life is going is to change now that they are moving into a new environment. She anticipates getting along perfectly with her cousins but still, deep inside her, is some doubt, that life won’t be as fun as it had been before the divorce. It is her hope that her parents work out the divorce since it is the only way that life can get back to normal again.
Lola’s parents are getting a divorce. This little girl needs a friend and looks up to Briony, her cousin, for this friendship. Despite some little differences, Briony likes Lola and reveals some secrets to her. Lola, in her thoughts, feels content but wants more than the friendship offered by Briony. Briony’s acceptance pushes her into thinking that Briony is a weak girl. She, therefore, sets out in endeavors to outshine her friend who is also her host and cousin.
Lola is not keen to settle the animosity that has arisen between her and Briony. She sees Briony as a kid despite the two-year difference. Lola knows that regardless of her actions, of outshining her cousin, she will still get her doing what she likes. She understands how much she needs a friend to confide with when she is troubled. Briony has given her this chance of friendship and feels free to tell her anything that might appear disturbing her.
Lola steals the show during the dinner play written and organized by her cousin Briony. She knows and fully understands the repercussions of her actions but goes further ahead to the take the central role of the play. She feels egocentric and wants to appear the queen of the night. She does this with the aim of getting l the attention on her since she feels that she is prettier and more grown than Briony.
Lola has mocked the lines of the play written by Briony. She also manipulates Briony and the other kids into allowing her to take the role of Arabella, who is the central focus of the play. Lola well understands the advantages that come with playing the central character. She wants to make herself flirty and more womanly. The perfumes she wears and the seductive voice blend with the walking style makes her attractive to everyone. Lola acts older than she is. Here performance beats that of a fifteen-year-old girl. It is clear that her thoughts too are not as innocent as those of fifteen years old. She feels superior to Briony for this fact and uses the friendship they have made to
Lola is assaulted and raped in the dark by Paul Marshal, who rapes her without letting himself to be seen. At this time, Lola is embarrassed and feels terrible. She is overpowered by the rapist, and all she can do is cry. Lola is only left to figure out who the rapist is and gets an idea that it might be Paul. She has a soft spot for Paul which has only developed within moments, and therefore deems it better if matters remain the way Briony puts them. She had been fast to give in. If it had not been for the fact that Briony discovered her after the rape, she might have considered staying silent about the issue. To erase any embarrassment, she just decided to call it rape, more so, after realizing the convenience in having Robbie as the victim of a false accusation. Lola tells Briony, “I couldn’t say for sure.” She makes real her vow of not telling on Paul until the end of the story.
Briony discovers Lola being raped by someone whom she can’t figure out. Following her thinking of Robbie as being a maniac, Briony tells everyone that she was sure about Robbie being the rapist. Lola remains silent about Briony’s accusation of Robbie. This leaves Lola thinking and contemplating whether it has been right or wrong for Robbie to be taken by the officers into custody, despite her surety that Paul is the rapist. She is also made to think of whatever might be felt by Robbie’s mother since her son has been convicted of having raped her. She clears t out by saying that she is not specific on whoever raped her but Briony on the other seems to be surer of whatever she claims. Lola does not support her cousin’s accusations of Robbie Turner, but rather remains silent about it because of her hidden attraction to Paul.
Lola feels the impact of taking a central role in the play written by Briony. Paul’s attraction towards her is the best way she could tell that she looked attractive during the evening show. She felt womanly down inside her, and she felt good knowing that Paul had gone head over heels on her, to the extent of letting his erotic feelings take over.
Lola marries Paul and lives with her despite the notion that it was him who had raped her years back. She still feels content living loving him, and consoles her egocentrism gives her the nerve to see Robbie as the sacrificial lamb for the love she had for Paul. The couple appeases their conscience by doing a lot of social charities and philanthropic acts. It crosses Lola’s thoughts often of Robbie’s condition in prison and whether he will ever forgive her or not. Shem most at times ends up not caring whether she is forgiven by Robbie or not. She still finds herself wishing to ruin Robbie’s life. Letting out the truth about her being raped by Paul is something that she could not find the nerve to do. She wants to forget everything that rapes incident now that she is married to the person who truly raped her. To her, it does no longer seem like she was raped by Paul. She would rather not associate anything they have ever had with rape.
Lola embarks on a bid to protect his rapist who later becomes her husband. She vows to sue Briony if she tries to publish the facts about who had raped her. She perceives that holding Briony from making any publication about Paul being the one who raped her would be detrimental to their marriage. Above all, she wants to keep Paul’s reputation clean until the day when the both of them will have been deceased. She sees Briony’s attempt of publishing her compilation which would include stating that she lied about Lola’s real rapist. Lola is more worried the truth ever being revealed than she is disturbed with the idea of having the innocent Robbie imprisoned and later forced into war. She is given the title of Lady after their chocolate business reaches its peak. Lola is comfortable with this title and thinks to herself that nothing ever in this world could lead her to move away from it.
Sixty years later, Lola is comfortably married to Paul and are both living life the way Lola would have wanted. It was clear from Lola’s childhood that she would give an arm and a leg for fame, this is reflected in the way they spend their fortune in charities and social organizations. Lola, together with her husband are well known and respected in the society, a fact that keeps nagging in Lola’s mind that any scandal would kill both of them. She doesn’t trust Briony and wishes that she would die before publishing the autobiography with the dirty secrete they shared.
The sick and diagnosed Briony meets Lola and Paul. The couple appears pitiful of Briony’s condition though Lola looks at it as an advantage that might come their way. She imagines a situation whereby Briony would be scared of publishing the true account of the rape during her lifestyle because of fear of being sued. Lola sees the ill health as another second factor of pushing Briony out of the world before her. All along Lola is brought to reflect o her life, and how she had been detached from innocence at a younger tender age. She reflects on the egocentrism that had always been present within and that would give her the last smile as the ailing Briony takes the true account of the rape incident to her own grave.