Atonement - What Does This Novel Have and Say About Secrets and Lies?

816 Words Oct 11th, 2012 4 Pages
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Essay Sample
What does this novel have and say about secrets and lies? In Atonement, narrative writing is a powerful force, which is both creative and destructive. It fulfils the desire to bring order on a chaotic world. Ian McEwan suggests through story telling can be a way to escape the harsh reality by controlling situations. Atonement shows the danger of story-telling, the danger of the artist’s ego, as it is a form of deception and destruction. However, it can reveal the transcendent truths; the

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McEwan shows Briony convincing herself though the repetition of “I saw” and the tone becomes more certain each time as she starts to believe that this is reality, “It was her story, the one that was writing itself around her” because she thinks she has seen it because it is so real to her imagination. She constructs a lie that was ‘moving fast and well beyond her control’ causing the destruction of Robbie and Cecelia’s relationship and becomes the ‘crime’ she commits.



Narrative writing is a form of secrets and lies that can cause destruction for the victim and others around them. Briony’s creation of fiction leads to her crime, as she perceives events through the distorting lens of fiction. All these fabricated scenarios she created has ‘trapped herself’ because she was naïve and obsessed with the control and power. The religious terms used such as ‘congregation’ and ‘massed’ shows her sacrificing the truth and Robbie because she wanted to avoid acknowledging reality. McEwan describes Briony’s lie as a ‘crime’, using criminal language to show how serious and destructive her story-telling has lead to. Briony’s ‘crime’ will bring her ‘eternal damnation’. Her actions have brought the lives of Robbie and Cecelia to remain incomplete, highlighted through the use of ‘un’ foreshadowing Robbie and
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