Atonement Narrative Analysis
Ashlee Nelson, Wednesday 9-9:50am,
Engl 117, Introduction to Narrative, 5/06/15
Ian McEwan’s, Atonement, is a novel which explores the controversial actions of pivotal characters, resulting in life-changing consequences. McEwan produces a novel that depends on the narrative aspect known as closure. H. Porter Abbott describes closure as being a tool authors use to either satisfy or frustrate the audience. (57). Closure, or lack thereof, involves the level of expectations and questions that readers hold for the novel. Closure significantly relates to the major thematic concern explored being that, actions can lead to mistakes that have major consequences for characters. Three major events or ideas which explore closure …show more content…
The audience is led to believe that they would be foolish for thinking for a second that these questions would not be answered the way they would want them to be. However, once again it becomes apparent that the reader has been deceived by Briony’s make believe narrative. H. Porter Abbott explains that the answers to questions from the narrative do not necessarily have to be correct, or that they may simply be partial answers (61). This relates to Atonement as the reader is given false information initially in terms of whether Robbie Turner is able to return from war and be reunited with Cecilia. The outcomes that Briony conjures through her writing helps the reader to understand closure based on what they think are the answers. However, the reader is wrong when presuming these answers and they have to quickly adjust to understand the truth that is given in Briony’s later retelling of what actually …show more content…
Briony published a fictional novel in hope that the lives of Cecilia and Robbie still exist, even as an invention, long after she is gone. In this way Briony proves she has grown out of her innocence; her attitudes have changed and her thinking becomes more sophisticated in response to what she has learned. The fact that Briony shares the truth at the end of the narrative seems to suggest that she has retained control over the narrative; that her account of events has remained untested and this is until she is willing to expose her own deceptions. As the author of her own work she wants to hold some sense of control over its importance, its treatment. She learns that to assume status as authority is to deny others the chance to challenge that authority and it undermines her ability to achieve atonement.
In Atonement, the treatment of closure clearly links to the thematic concern that certain actions can lead to mistakes which have consequences for the characters of atonement who struggle to resolve them. Relevant events in the novel such as the confrontation between the Tallis sisters, whether Robbie Turner will return home from war and Briony in her older years, clearly portray closure or lack thereof through the level of expectations and