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Some books change the way you think- this is one of them
Just a couple of hours ago, I read the last of Atonement by Ian McEwan and I have many thoughts about it, which I am excited to discuss here. MANY! If you haven’t read this romantic tragedy, I would highly recommend downloading it and spending some time every day to read this novel that will truly change how you make decisions in the future. Then come back to this blog post, of course! 😉 I hope you enjoy my thoughts on this fantastic novel!
The first feeling I felt as I read those final, shocking pages was that I had been played by the author. Ever since it was revealed that Robbie had been fighting in WW2 and was waiting for evacuation at Dunkirk, I read each page tentatively, hoping with all my might that he would survive the battle. So I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I felt immense relief when Robbie appeared during the confrontation between Cecilia and Briony, grateful that after all the turmoil he had been forced through, his future was, though still not safe, bright because he was with the one who had been loyal to him and loved him at his worst. But when Briony confesses at the end of the novel that the two lovers had actually died, their last meeting being the short exchange before Cecilia had to leave, I could not believe the author’s audacity of tearing away something I had truly believed in and wrecking the lives of characters I had invested my hope into. However, I found it interesting that Briony believed that writing a novel and creating a whole new world in which the two were prospering qualified as atonement for her sin. Considering this in more detail, I must disagree with her. How is it fair to think that you have made amends for the terrible things you have done to someone, by not ever seeking their forgiveness? While I understand the predicament of the war, Briony herself admits that it is her cowardice that prevents her from seeking her sister, and though Briony states that she knows she will never be forgiven, she seems to find solace that her novel makes up for her actions to some degrees because her characters have happy endings. Should I have been in such a position, I am confident in the belief that I would have been plagued by guilt and remorse every day that I did not truly show how sorry I was through my actions as a better person. I have always profoundly believed that actions are far more impactful than words, for, of course, it is easier to say or even write, things in the moment, but it is much more difficult to implement and act on those ambitious words. Truth be told, I found it slightly disappointing than Briony, a strong character, did not find the courage to seek true atonement.
Nevertheless, Briony is my favourite character! Probably not a very popular decision, since it is inevitable to dislike her at least at some point of the novel. Yet although I was inwardly screaming at her at many points of the novel, willing her to take my advice (I know, I know. I’m a very dramatic reader!), the complexity behind the face of order and regulations interested me greatly. As a child, it was unsurprising that she wanted the spotlight, but as a child whose father was constantly away, whose mother lay away with ailments, and whose siblings were away at university, it is understandable that she craved attention and yearned to “grow up”, act with the maturity she thought necessary to earn their respect and company. Looking back, it is clear to see that all Briony did during the dreadful Part 1 as she incriminated Robbie was done out of love to protect her sister. The power of a simple misconception of seeing two people arguing and one then going into the fountain, is thoroughly illustrated by Briony who goes on to link every future event to those crucial moments she caught through a window. One of the largest takeaways for me was the importance of having conversations when faced with uncertainty. Most of the time, we don’t see the whole picture and this is something a simple exchange of words can correct and save a lifetime of misery and suffering. Personally speaking, I am often quick to act and reach judgements of a person, though definitely not on the scale of Briony, and the horrific consequences that can arise of such mentality are what I am going to consider every time I find myself jumping to a conclusion, and although I am bound to fail in this quest by merely forgetting, I want to keep reminding myself in the hope that I will be able to permanently cultivate this quality in myself.
On the note of Briony’s despicable actions, this blog post would not be complete if I did not discuss my feelings about the relationship between the two sisters. Despite the magnitude and consequence of the action, I wonder how it was possible for Cecilia to cease the relationship with her younger sister, and her whole family for that matter, and live alone in pain while the one she had defended couldn’t even be there with her. While I cannot ever see myself estranged from my loving family, I can’t help but understand how betrayed Cecilia felt and how that fuelled the hostility and resentment she developed to her old life. Perhaps the difference between the action of hers and what I would have done is that I come from a loving family whilst hers was cold, the role of the mother forced upon her young heart. I think it takes such bravery to decide to walk away from your family after discovering their lack of integrity, a principle which is the foundation of a good human being. Would it be weak to continue living life as normal with such an immoral family that sent an innocent to prison? I agree here with Cecilia, that the principals of a person is the primary aspect to look at in terms of developing a relationship, but is it worth shutting off your family completely because of anger? This is a concept I am still considering, but I stand by my opinion that Cecilia made a brave choice to not be surrounded by people who did not share her important beliefs of loyalty and honesty. As someone who aspires to be a lawyer, I am proud that there are people who will not conspire with their family to incriminate innocents and leave someone guilty of rape, a horrendous crime, free. For a judicial system of society to work, honesty and integrity are essential in all members, which this novel conveys very very well.
So those are some of my thoughts after finishing this novel and this is why I think you need to shut off your social media, switch off Netflix and just read. I’m sure you’ll be amazed by not only the carefully orchestrated storyline but the absolute beauty of McEwan’s writing with words chosen to perfection I would have thought unattainable. It is a story of love and war and regret. There is so much to understand from the perspective of each character, and I sincerely hope that you will feel and experience the emotional ride I went on too.
I’d like to end with one of my favourite quotes by Cecilia.
“Come back. Come back to me.”
This phrase, whenever I read it, gives me a sense of hope. Cecilia’s strong sense of belief that it is possible for someone in such trauma, Briony in her nightmares or Robbie facing war memories, to still return to sanity. To return to goodness from whatever sins committed- there is still and will always be salvation if only one chooses to atone, one of the most impactful messages I understood from this book.
If you do get the chance to read this, please share your comments and feedback! I would love to hear your thoughts on this exceptional piece of writing!
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A Corporate Analysis
The Daimler Automotive Group is a German based automotive manufacturer that was originally established in 1926 and continues to thrive today. Daimler, a powerhouse of the auto industry and the parent company of luxury car brand Mercedes-Benz, took in an annual revenue of 167.4 billion euros last year alone (Beauchemin, 2016). Their mission is to “focus on innovative and green technologies as well as on safe and superior automobiles that appeal and fascinate” (Kennard, 2019). Moreover Daimler executives have expressed that their vision is to “follow a consistent path towards intelligent connectivity of our vehicles, autonomous driving and new mobility concepts.” (Jones). The corporation has found success in their recent pursuits as they are a leader in the field of autonomous driving technology.
In an attempt to advance their technological developments as well as expand their target market and gain a competitive edge, it would be in Daimler’s best interest to develop and introduce a hydrogen fueled car. H₂ powered vehicles are the future of the auto industry as they produce no carbon emissions and therefore burn 100% clean energy. Although there are many safety and financial complications with the mass production of hydrogen vehicles, Daimler has the opportunity to be the pioneers of this technology as no other automotive company currently offers it. Consumers are always looking for the newest technology in any given industry and would therefore be interested in purchasing vehicles fueled by alternative energy sources. Moreover, Daimler predominately sells luxury automobiles that generally appeal to the upper-class consumer. This allows them to maintain decent profit margins while selling expensive technology as their customers will likely not mind paying premiums on these new cars.
Hydrogen powered cars rely on a single fuel cell that is designed to harness the energy produced by the reaction of hydrogen gas and oxygen gas upon catalyzation by a reactive metal isotope such as platinum-192 (Hennin, 2018). The chemical energy harnessed from this reaction is used to charge large batteries that in turn, power an electric drivetrain and turn the wheels. As long as they are provided with an ample supply of hydrogen, the batteries could in theory run forever. This innovation would align perfectly with their mission statement as hydrogen powered cars have a very minimal impact on the environment. Furthermore, burning H₂ is an automotive concept that certainly “appeals and fascinates” (Kennard, 2019).
A CORPORATE ANALYSIS: Daimler AG is a global powerhouse that embodies many corporate strengths. Their variety of brands allows them to sell to many diverse markets. Brands such as Western Star and Frieghtliner appeal to commercial customers in the transportation industry while brands like SmartCar and Mitsubishi-Fuso are designed for the public consumer. Their flagship brand Mercedes Benz has dominated the luxury car market for decades. Moreover, Daimler offers non-automotive services such as Mercedes Financial which allows for an even wider customer base. In addition to the strength of their brands, Daimler is financially strong and distributes their capital in a highly effective manner. They spend 9.1 billion euros annually on research and development (Kennard 2019). On top of being an industry leader in R&D, Daimler owns 7.5 billion euros worth of property, facilities and production equipment. These assets act as securities for the company and allow them to invest in new ventures with limited risk.
Despite being a powerhouse, Daimler has certain corporate weaknesses that cannot be overlooked. Due to the fact they are based out of Europe, they tend to encounter complications and added expenses when exporting products to the North American market. This includes but is not limited to; export tariffs, cross-atlantic shipping costs, currency exchange rates and intercontinental commerce regulations (Beauchemin, 2016). Additionally, Daimler is forced to sell “North American adaptations” of their vehicles in order to compete with domestic auto manufacturers. Some complications include producing left-hand drive vehicles and equipping cars with NHTSA approved air bags. This inevitably ends up costing Daimler extra and subsequently reduces profit margins.
In terms of opportunities, Daimler has many. Daimler has enough capital to buy smaller companies and subsequently add to their roster of sub-brands. Their 2018 annual report states that as a company, they have 2.9 billion euros of “free cash flow” (Jones, 2018). In the past, this money has been allocated to buy competitor automotive companies such as SmartCar. Not only does this give Daimler an opportunity to further distinguish their parent brand, but it also eliminates competition and frees up market share. An additional opportunity would be the Mercedes AMG Formula One race team. Led by principal investor Toto Wolff, the AMG race team is powerhouse of the motorsport world. Among many things, the race team provides Daimler with fantastic advertising opportunities. It also facilitates the innovation of new powertrain, suspension and transmission systems. One might argue that Mercedes AMG has dominated the track almost as much as they dominate the consumer market.
Finally, one must consider the corporate threats that Daimler AG faces. The biggest threat to the company is the constantly changing environmental regulations that all automakers must take into account. Most Daimler vehicles rely upon large, powerful gasoline engines. As environmental conditions worsen and climate change becomes a bigger concern, the demand for V8, V10 and V12 engines continues to decrease. These inefficient engines, the engines Daimler has built its empire around are becoming the technology of the past. In order to keep up with current consumer demands as well as meet government regulations, Daimler brands must focus on the development of low emission powertrains and engines rely on cleaner energy sources. Although Daimler Automotive Group suffers from inevitable weaknesses and faces certain threats, they are without a doubt a force to be reckoned with when it comes to the automotive industry.
Beauchemin, F. (2016). Daimler: growth in unit sales and revenue — EBIT and dividend at high levels. Retrieved from https://media.daimler.com/marsMediaSite/en/instance/ko/Daimler-growth-in-unit- sales-and-revenue — EBIT-and-dividend-at-high-levels.xhtml?oid=42464844.
Hennin, G. (2018). How Do Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles Work? Retrieved from https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/how-do-hydrogen-fuel-cell-vehicles-work.
Jones, M. (n.d.). Our Business Units. Retrieved from https://www.daimler.com/company/business-units/.
Kennard, L. (2019). Daimler Global Media Site. Retrieved from https://media.daimler.com/marsMediaSite/en/instance/ko/Start.xhtml?oid=483625
N. A. Sedans, SUVs, Coupes & Wagons. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.mercedes-benz.ca/en/home#.
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