Atonement - What Does This Novel Have and Say About Secrets and Lies?

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What does this novel have and say about secrets and lies?

In Atonement, narrative writing is a powerful force, which is both creative and destructive. It fulfils the desire to bring order on a chaotic world. Ian McEwan suggests through story telling can be a way to escape the harsh reality by controlling situations. Atonement shows the danger of story-telling, the danger of the artist’s ego, as it is a form of deception and destruction. However, it can reveal the transcendent truths; the power of the imagination, the importance of human love and the need of atonement.

Ian McEwan explores the desire to create fictional realities to control and escape the chaos of the real world. In chapter one, we are given a glimpse of Briony’s ‘controlling demon’ through the set up of her bedroom. She arranges her farm animals across a window ledge facing ‘towards their owner’ showing her obsessive need to be the centre of attention and to be recognized as the creator. Her main character of her play ‘The Trials of Arabella’, is actually her, foreshadowing the events that are to unfold later in the novel . This shows that she has an obsession to be the centre of attention even in a fictional world emphasized emphasised through the metaphor, ‘wasn’t writing a kind of soaring, an achievable form of light, of fancy, of the imagination. She feels powerful and gets a buzz from story telling. However, she doesn’t write stories about divorce, as they are a symbol of life’s messy incompatibility with art, ‘it belonged in the realm of disorder’ and doesn’t want to go near it because it’s too real for her. Her impulse to create fiction is highlighted by her naïveté because she is unable to understand the adult world. Through writing it was a high to escape reality and enter a world of her own that she could comprehend.

McEwan suggests that fiction can become dangerous when it replaces reality. Briony creates the character of Robbie around the word ‘manic’ ironically supplied by...
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