atonement by ian mcewan review

Social structures, upper class fronts and the meaning of truth are just some of the themes that Ian McEwan reveals in his book, ‘Atonement,’ through the various interrelationships of his characters. The characters and how they relate to each other help us as readers come to a better understanding of our own lives as through the novel we are forced into the rowdy lives of the wealthy, naive and deceitful. Although this may seem far extreme compared to our own lives, they are actually more similar than we realize. It shows us that just like the laws of physics, for every action there is a reaction and what we do or don’t do can affect the very lively hood of another and just like the characters in a book, our own lives are all intertwined and how we relate to one another determines what will happen in the future. Without character interrelationships, there are no developments and without developments there is no story. This idea of causality is an essential element to Atonement as the main reason for the conflict is due to the unnecessary involvement of a precautious thirteen year old (Briony) who investigates into the lives of her fellow characters in order to make a ‘story’ as ‘Nothing in her life was sufficiently interesting’ and if there was, ‘no one seemed to care.’ This is a good example of how a need for attention has resulted in a chaotic trail of events that eventually leads to the demise of a seemingly dysfunctional family but also the creation of a tragic love story. Atonement contains a web of intertwining lives where one single person’s actions affect the lives of many. The simple action of reading a letter not intended for the recipient is the trigger for a chain of events but without the characters interrelating, no chain reaction would result. The ripple effect in Atonement shows us how a small mistake can be amplified from a wrong letter being delivered to the wrong person reading it, to a man being sentenced. Atonement comes from an “at…

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