What are some significant examples of 'destructive choices' made within the book and their subsequent consequences?
One may consider Briony’s ignoble act as a direct consequence of destructive choices. Then, in order to understand her behaviour preceding the tragic events described in part 1, one should consider the following questions:
First, Briony’s involvement with the play she wrote to impress her brother is relevant in the plot. The play rehearsals occupy her energies and entertain her cousins from thinking about the divorce of their parents. However, as soon as Briony witnesses her sister and Robbie talking by the fountain, she abandons the idea of performing the play, and instead she opts for walking about the countryside. Here, her attitude is unpredictable and denotes a capricious behavior.
Second, Briony’s behavior proves to be destructive when she reads the letter Robin wrote to Cecilia, as she knows that reading other people’s letters is a synonym of bad manners. In view of that, she tries to intervene in a world of which she misunderstands, validating her imagination of the fountain scene.
Lastly, lying to the police is indeed a destructive choice in that her act ruins the lives of two people, Cecilia and Robbie. Having caused sorrow around her, she will feel guilty for the rest of her life and as the title of the novel suggests, she will spend her life atoning for her misdeeds.