Paul Marshall is a complete creep. His physical appearance, with his thick mustache and curly hair, create an ugly and smarmy image. However, his words and actions are far worse. He has no awareness of the effect he has on others or any self restraint. At the tense dinner scene (around page 180), he rudely brings up the war, where it is improper to begin a conversation when Emily is not present. When he quickly finds that seducing Cecelia is unrealistic, he moves on to Lola, a 15 year old. That they meet in a nursery is important-Lola is on the verge of adulthood and his questions are far too forward and inappropriate. His actions are horrific in this key scene-he rapes Lola, which is terrible in itself, but even worse, he lets Robbie be falsely accused, which in turn ruins the lives of him, Cecelia, and Briony.
Leon is in many ways the polar opposite of Paul Marshall but he actually does still show some similar qualities. Leon is blissfully ignorant, he means well but his overly positive attitude is a bit much. In a very different way, this likens him to Paul, as they both are determined not to face reality or acknowledge any consequences of anything. Leon does bring out the best in his peers though. He brings true joy to his mother, Briony, and Cecelia. Because of his positive and innocent manner, many people kind of use him for a distraction or barrier from one another. After Briony has read Robbie’s note to Cecelia and then hands it to her, she engulfs herself in her brother, ignoring any questions from Cecelia. Also, Cecelia is mostly bored and wanders around the house all day but instead is able to spend time with Leon. She is able to use him as a barrier from Paul by the pool and after Briony sees Cecelia and Robbie in the library, Leon and Cecelia pair up to search for the twins, allowing for Cecelia to escape a tense situation. Overall, Leon is a positive character, bringing out the happiest side in his family but not adding to the story line or creating new events.