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Betrayal in Ian McEwan’s Atonement

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S.P Athira, Dr. S. Felicia Gladys Sathiadevi
» doi: 10.31838/ecb/2023.12.si6.250


The novel, Atonement is composed in four parts. The first part has the narration of only twenty-four hours of an extreme hot summer of 1935 falling out mostly in Briony’s house. The second part moves around France and London by the time of the Dunkirk retreat in 1940 covering some resplendent wartime merrymaking of Dunkirk and St. Thomas’s hospital, where injured soldiers of war undergo treatment under the care of trainee nurses. The third part portrays the latest developments of the present-day London. The fourth part, the concluding Postscript speaks of an old Briony at her 77, enduring visceral dementia and finally getting consolation by achieving her lifetime dream of expiation. Briony, a creative girl of fantasizing to become a great writer who is behind the imprisonment of Robbie by mistake, feels remorseful for her oversight and strives to rectify the same. Briony’s parents seem to be a contended couple to the outside world as they never show their difference of opinion apparently. Despite being fickle and adulterous, in other ways, Jack is an indisputable family head taking care of his household as well as simultaneously supporting his house keeper’s son Robbie in pursuing his graduation in literature as a humanitarian. Cecilia wishes for mortifying him, seducing him to get over his attitude of gratefulness by showing her eye catching beauty. Being seduced smartly, he sends an overenthusiastic erotic letter to Cecilia through Briony. . McEwan gets usually succeeded in projecting the ‘macabre’ image depending on the narrative twist.

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