Historical Themes In Ian Mcewan's Atonement

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The way in which Ian McEwan’s Atonement, was written allows the readers to become apart of the complex and intricate story. The narrative used within the story was told from the point of view of the main character, Briony. In the beginning of the story, Briony was retelling a traumatic childhood event from the perspective of a child, but as the story continues and she grows up she realizes her mistake and tries to undo the negative effects of her previous immature interpretations. In book Atonement, by Ian McEwan, the narration is used to help drive the storyline, highlight the different themes and tie in the historical context of the story’s time periods.
Throughout all of Atonement, Briony narrates the events that happen and how they affect
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Atonement is believed to contain three different time periods, the first being set in 1935, the second being the 1940s and the last part in 1999 (Ingersoll). The first section of the book, believed to be in 1935, is when Briony was a young girl living on her family’s large compound, which was common for that time period. The narration used within this section is childish and very exaggerated due to the younger age and immaturity of Briony. The second section of the book, which is understood to be 1940s and during WWII, has the most allusions to the historical time period, especially to the war. Both Robbie and Briony are described to be on battle fields of the war, Robbie as a soldier and Briony as a nurse for the army. Not only these two characters, but all the characters of the story seem to be affected by the war in one way or another. Briony is older and seems to see things a lot differently since her start as a nurse for the army. This affects her narrative voice in several ways, for example, the use of complex thinking and sophisticated thoughts become more apparent in this section. Lastly, in the last section, believed to be in 1999, Briony reflects on the past, and how her mistakes caused Robbie to go to war and forever separating him from Cecilia. The narrative is this section is mostly reflective on her past regrets. Both the historical context and Briony’s narrative allow the reader to notice other external forces that might have had an influence on some of Briony’s

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