How Is Conflict Shown in the Atonement by Ian Mcewan

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In employing a different ‘’centre of consciousness’’ when telling the story from a narrator’s perspective, the point of view of characters usually shifts to different opinions. Atonement by Ian McEwan, uses this style in his mode of narration to successfully build the story around the narrator, Briony and then shifts to Cecelia’s perspective allowing the responder to consider the ambiguity and reliability of Briony as a narrator. As a post–modern ‘coming of age’ text, we are never given the satisfaction of reaching an absolute truth, but it is through Briony’s version of events that concludes in destruction and confusion. Consequently, we see Briony’s immature responses in her interpretation of the fountain scene, library scene and the rape which result in devastating consequences for the adults concerned. This use of subjective narrative perspective guides the readers to understand Briony’s romanticized ideas in her interpretation of happens in the fountain scene. As an indirect participant in this scene, her precociousness and naivety sees her interpreting her sister Cecelia’s and Robbie’s meeting as something more. The bedroom window provides a vantage point for her to witness the event as the story becomes more authentic from the narrator’s point of view. Consequently, as Briony is the narrator, her perception becomes the readers’ first impression on the story. Her personal belief on Cecelia’s and Robbie’s body language and gesture gives a wrong interpretation on their relationship. As an imaginative and creative girl, unsophisticated enough to evaluate properly what she sees, Briony witnesses Robbie raising his hand after Cecelia removes her clothes and through her, she thinks that Robbie is a commander controlling Cecelia to obey her orders when she says “what was less comprehensible, however, was how Robbie imperiously raised his hand now, as though issuing a command which Cecelia dared not obey. ’’ The use of adverb, “imperiously” suggests Robbie’s...
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