In Ian McEwan’s novel Atonement he uses a shifting third person perspective in all three parts of the novel

In Ian McEwan’s novel Atonement he uses a shifting third person perspective in all three parts of the novel. This allows the reader inside the heads of, at first, Briony, and then Emily, Cecilia, Lola and Robbie. Therefore, we perceive that the ‘truth’ is a subjective concept; all the character’s views of reality are flawed so they are never able to present the whole truth by themselves; they either misinterpret events or motives or simply aren’t aware of all the facts. This layering of narrative perspective exerts the idea that ‘truth’ itself is elusive – slippery and subjective. The epilogue shifts completely into first person and the identity of the narrator is revealed as Briony herself, an old women. This section reveals the ‘truth’ that the reunion of the two lovers was a romantic fiction fuelled by Briony’s need for atonement. Briony expresses her novel is an attempt to atone for the damage she has caused, which she has always known is an impossible task. Nevertheless, she also expresses that was exactly the point but the attempt will be enough to satisfy her. This suggests that there is some point behind choosing to write the novel as well. The purpose was not just to give an account of what happened, but also create a story “There was a crime. But there were also the lovers. Lovers and their happy ends have been on my mind all night long. As into the sunset we sail. An unhappy inversion.” here Briony implies that she not only wanted to give an account of what happened but she also had an agenda to atone for the damage she caused by creating a love story. She cannot see purpose in trying to persuade her readers into believing that Robbie turner dies “… of septicaemia at Bray Dunes 1 June 1940, or that Cecilia was killed in September of the same year by the bomb that destroyed Belham Underground station.” She wants to create a love story from the groundwork of something tragic; due to her desire to give a final act of kindness towards the people she betrayed when she was young. She has essentially created a plot that has a particular effect, which is to make amends and redeem for the damage she caused. In the end Briony mentions that even though the story was altered in order for her sister Cecilia and Robbie to reunite once again, she never attempted to make them forgive her, because she knows that would be impossible, as they are now dead. This final reflection on the novel underlines the reason Briony wrote it and shows that she has tried to redeem for her wrong doings as a young girl.

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