How do the techniques emphasise theme e.t.c?
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The writer uses a shifting third person perspective in Parts 1, 2 and 3. This allows us inside the heads and hearts of, at first, Briony, and then Emily, Cecilia, Lola and Robbie. Thus, we perceive that the "truth" is a subjective thing; 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 drives home the idea that "truth" itself is elusive - a slippery and subjective thing. Finally, the epilogue shifts completely into the first person and the identity of the narrator is revealed as Briony herself, an old woman dogged by neurological dysfunction. This section reveals the "truth" - that the reunion of the two lovers was a romantic fiction fueled by Briony's need for atonement; the details were fattened up by hours of scavenging through War Museum archives; that the account of the retreat to Dunkirk was in fact Nettles own view of events, as revealed to Briony by the soldier himself in his old age; that Briony's dedication to writing and language will end ironically with the disintegration of her ability to distinguish between fact and fiction. By the end, we know that the story is an attempt by Briony to do penance for a terrible "untruth" she told as an imaginative and naive young girl. Because of this knowledge, the entire narrative becomes unreliable - which parts are true and which are made up and what has she left out so we would forgive her more readily? How has she garnished her recollections to suit her purpose? McEwan indulges our (and Briony's) shared desire for a happy ending; Ceclila and Robbie are reunited, at least in fiction. This satisfaction is short lived and destroyed by the epilogue. McEwan narrative structure forces on us the uncomfortable idea that all of our lives are, in part, a narrative construction. We, like Briony, have agendas and unknown reasons why we see what we want to see and we believe what we want to believe. The truth is much less attainable, much less palatable or even desirable than we are usually able or willing to realize.