Atonement Point Of View Analysis

1011 Words 5 Pages
Register to read the introduction… We are told in the first part that “Briony had lost her godly power of creation” (72); later, Briony writes “how can a novelist achieve atonement when, with her absolute power of deciding outcomes, she is also God?” (350). If we compare the epistemological position of an omniscient God to that of a person, we can suggest that God can see things from a point of view that supercedes even the general point of view: God has an “absolute” point of view in which all points of view can be seen through and judged for their accuracy or completion; the individual’s point of view is limited and escapable only through imaginative sympathy. Briony-as-God, however, lacks this absolute point of view; as an author, she imagines her characters points of view without instantiating them. Chapters focalized on Cecilia or Robbie show us not their points of view, but Briony’s imagination of them. But because she is haunted by her own epistemological limits—as well as her “feeling” that she is more “real” than other people—her imaginative creation fails to allow her to enter other points of view; she cannot, that is, be “at one” with her characters. The distance between Briony and her characters, her inability to be “at one” with them, through the experience of either a general or an absolute point of view, makes atonement (“at-one-ment”) …show more content…
My point that, on a first reading of Atonement, we are “supposed” to experience different focalizations as reliable rests on the idea that McEwan, in writing the novel, attempted to keep Briony’s status as author from us. But is this the case? To what degree is Briony’s status as author of the book we read predictable? If we are meant not to discover that what we are reading is Briony’s account, in what places does her screen become transparent? Further, even if we suspect Briony of being the author of the novel’s first section, is there anything in the second section, in which Robbie is the focalizer, that suggests that the account is

Related Documents