The Meanings of Atonement 12th Grade

“I put it all there as a matter of historical record… We will all only exist as my inventions. No one will care what events and which individuals were misinterpreted to make a novel… How can a novelist achieve atonement when… she is also God? In her imagination she has set the limits and the terms” (Atonement 2001 p.369-371).

A reader’s interpretation of prose is fundamentally influenced by the narrator’s perception; therefore, an unreliable narrator has literary, theoretical, and moral consequences for the meanings that can be read from a text. Exchanging an omniscient, third person narrator, who supplies an apparently comprehensive and veracious account and encourages a willing suspension of disbelief on the reader’s part, for a focalised, subjective perspective, noticeably informed by ideologies and ethics, casts a shadow of doubt and ambiguity on the narrative. In the coda of Ian McEwan’s Atonement, the manipulative narrator, Briony Tallis, delineates that this novel is her last chance to provide “satisfaction or reparation for [the] wrong [and] injury” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary 2015) she caused Cecilia, her sister, and her lover, Robbie Turner, by misinterpreting their interactions and motivations. Her reaction was, with...

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