Judging Lines Between Reality and Imagination in Atonement
As I read Atonement, by Ian McEwan, on the beach in Long Beach Island I was confronted with a somewhat new style of writing that I did not recognize. The splitting of the novel into three main parts only made sense to me after I had finished it; the account of the crime that took place at the Tallis household, Robbie Turner’s adventures at war, and Briony’s tales as a nurse were all connected and ended up “coming together” much more smoothly than I had anticipated. The characters Briony, Robbie, Cecilia, and Lola are all faced with very different problems which all have the same fundamental root: the attacks on Lola and the “attack” on Cecilia. Briony is only 13 when the novel begins. She is desperate for attention and lives in her own, dramatic world through writing. “Nothing in her life was sufficiently interesting or shameful to merit hiding; no one knew about the squirrel’s skull beneath her bed, but no one wanted to know” (5). Briony’s need for attention is not helped by the fact that her mother is usually unavailable due to acute migraines. She does not have the constant love and attention of a mother and both her siblings are grown up and lead their own lives. This leaves Briony as somewhat of an only child and certainly fuels her love for writing and creating her own fantasy worlds. Briony is “one of those children possessed by a desire to have the world just so” (4). She is an innocent pre-adolescent which later creates a huge catastrophe in the lives of Robbie Turner, her long-time family friend, and Cecilia Tallis, her sister. I feel that Briony at times felt homesick, but not in the typical way a person would feel homesick. I thought that Briony feels homesick for her imaginative life when something real life happens. When a real life situation strikes she is forced to live in the real world away from her imagination and the world she created for herself. The accidental letter Robbie sends...
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