Ian McEwan's "Atonement"

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The story and analysis of the book.

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Ian McEwan's "Atonement"

  1. 1. Ian McEwan 1948 - now Kees IJzerman June 2014
  2. 2. Ian McEwan • Early stories: grisly Example: The Cement Garden • Later: ordinary lives affected Example: Enduring Love • “Open the wrong door and you step into a nightmare” • What if? What if people made different choices?
  3. 3. Atonement, part 1 • Tallis family; Briony: 13 yrs old; writes play Cecilia (“Cee”): older sister • Robbie = Son of housekeeper, in love with Cee • Fountain scene
  4. 4. Atonement, fountain scene • Fountain scene
  5. 5. Atonement, part 1 • Briony (vivid imagination) sees scene • Interprets it romantically, perhaps erotically • Robbie writes Cee a letter, telling her he loves her. • He asks Briony to deliver it for him • But: WRONG letter! A very dirty one! • Briony of course reads it and finds it perverse.
  6. 6. Atonement, part 1 • Robbie comes to the house. • He and Cee make love in the library. • This too is witnessed by Briony. • She mistakes the love-making for rape.
  7. 7. Atonement, part 1 • Robbie has turned into an evil pervert in Briony’s mind • When she goes out of the house at night, she sees her cousin Lola being raped. She accuses Robbie, who had nothing to do with it. • Robbie is arrested.
  8. 8. Atonement, part 2 • Five years later • Robbie in the army after prison • Dunkirk • Robbie severely wounded • Goes home to Cecilia
  9. 9. Atonement, Dunkirk • Dunkirk
  10. 10. Atonement, part 3 • Still during the war: • Briony is a nurse. She does this mainly to atone for her sin of wrongly accusing Robbie • Briony visits her sister. • Cee and Robbie instruct her on how she can clear Robbie’s name
  11. 11. Atonement, Instructions • Briony begs sorry and gets instructions
  12. 12. Atonement, part 4 • Almost 60 years later, 1999 • Everything we have read till now was told by Briony. • She is dying • Briony made up the part about visiting Cecilia and Robbie • In reality Robbie had died on the beach of Dunkirk • Cecilia died while hiding for an air-raid in a tube station.
  13. 13. Atonement, the ending • Ending
  14. 14. Atonement • All of a sudden the book turns out to be a frame-story. • Briony seeks atonement, forgiveness – From the reader? – From her sister and Robbie? – From herself? • The book is ultimately about storytelling.

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