Atonement by Ian McEwan
Part One: Introduction
Atonement by Ian McEwan falls under the genre of fiction, mystery, and suspense. The word Atonement means reparation for a wrongdoing. The book is set time of pre, present, and post World War II. The book references many well know works including Grey’s Anatomy, Macbeth, and Hamlet. Briony Tallis plays the role of both the protagonist and the antagonist in this piece. She is the main character and the story is told primarily through her eyes. Briony Tallis is a 13 year old who expresses great passion in writing. Briony has 2 older siblings Leon and Cecilia, who are visiting from London and Cambridge. One day, Briony comes across her older sister Cecelia and Robbie, Briony’s crush, making love in the library. Briony, being so young, didn’t understand what was going on. She misinterpreted the whole situation and ended up telling false stories about Robbie. This led to problems in Cecelia and Robbie’s relationship, resulting in a break up. Briony later realizes he effect of her actions on Robbie and Cecelia, and even if Robbie and Cecelia never forgive her, she is determined to receive atonement for what she did. Main themes include guilt, misconception, and innocence. A few symbol in this piece include, the vase, water, and the window. Ian McEwan did a wonderful job of using other literary devices such as diction, foreshadowing and allusion.
Part Two: Journal Entries
In the first chapters of Atonement, the thirteen-year-old main character, Briony, struggles with determining who she wants to be and what she wants to do. It is like she is an adult trapped in a child’s body. She even describes her life as “unbearably complicated” (34). However, there are some things, life changing things, which Briony is yet to understand. This is determined primarily in the beginning of the book when she happens to notice Cecelia, her older sister, and Robbie, son of the Tallis’ charlady, in a somewhat intimate looking scene by the fountain. This comes as an unexpected surprise to Briony who, at such an immature age, doesn’t understand why her older sister is standing in her undergarments, drenched in water, in front of Robbie. This part of the story sets the tone for the rest of the piece and determines one of the main themes, misconception. Briony forms her own view on the scene between Briony and Robbie, which is obviously far different from what really happened. When reading, it can be determined that this introduction to the main character, Briony, and her actions are a foreshadowing for what is to come of Cecelia, Robbie, and herself.
Lola, the oldest sibling of the Tallis cousins, is also down to visit her cousins, aunt, and uncle. These next few chapters are based around how she is developing into a woman, and struggling with the need for a man in her life. This is based around the absence of her father in her life, so she not only wants a “lover” but also yearns for someone who she can look to as a father figure. One particular scene is when she notice Paul Marshall’s luggage in her Auntie Venus’ room. This reminds her so much of her father. Lola spends much of her time trying to act more mature than she actually. Her character is normally seen using her maternal instinct as she always tries to instruct the two younger brothers to do what’s right, and is spends a lot of her time in the nursery. This is when Paul Marshall shows up and kind of plays along with Lola’s maternal ways towards the boys and tells them that their parents are good people and they still love them. The presence of Paul Marshall sort of sets her tone for this part of the book. She obviously shows interest in him, and likewise, he does in her. This, however, posed a question to me. How would Paul Marshall feel about Lola is he knew that she is looking, in a way, for someone to look to as a father figure? Would this change his mind about her?
Briony is still struggling...
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