Ian Mcewan's Atonement: Barricading the Ladder Essay

1838 Words Jun 21st, 2012 8 Pages
| Atonement: Barricading the Ladder | |

Daryl Deebrah
Ms. C. Kivinen
Due: April 27th 2012

Atonement: Daryl Deebrah April 21/2012
Class conflict is not new. Complications between the classes have occurred many times throughout history and the theme has been explored numerous times different pieces of literature by a variety of authors. However, in Ian McEwan’s 2001 novel, Atonement, he provides the reader with a unique perspective on class conflict. In Atonement, characters such as Emily and Briony Tallis, who represent the educated and elite upper social class, feel a special kinship to others in the same class and to the status
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Emily’s greed and fear of Robbie’s status causes her to keep quiet during Robbie’s accusation leading to his conviction. This stops him from making any more social progress. Content to believe Robbie is guilty and simply demonstrated the behaviour of a working class man, Emily Tallis commits a crime of concealment, obstructs justice and ‘puts Robbie back in his place’ and his belonging class.
Briony Tallis is another example of how the greedy attitudes and fear of intrusion the upper social class exhibit may be the origin of class conflict, influencing them to commit crimes to protect their kin and status from members of the lower class. In chapter three of Atonement, Briony witnesses from afar what she deems an ‘illogical sequence’ between Cecilia and Robbie. Unable to comprehend what is going on, Briony’s over reactive imagination begins to make assumptions: “Robbie Turner, only son of a humble cleaning lady and of no known father, Robbie who had been subsidised by Briony’s father through school and university, had wanted to be a landscape gardener, and now wanted to take up medicine, had the boldness of ambition to ask for Cecilia’s hand…What was less comprehensible, however, was how Robbie imperiously raised his hand now, as though issuing a command which Cecilia dared not disobey. It was extraordinary she was unable to resist him…What strange power did he have over her. Blackmail? Threats?”(McEwan 38). Briony, believing

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