McEwan focalizes first part of Atonement through many different characters, often portraying events multiple times to give an insight to individual’s ability to create narrative and prompts the viewer to think about the “distinction between character and action” (Abbott 130). Considering that the two are so entwined in Atonement one comes to the conclusion that McEwan’s position on the matter coincides with that of Henry James, who states that “character and action [are] indistinguishable”, and this can be seen in Atonement through the fact that the characters “have agency” and “cause things to happen”(Abbott 131) . The scene where Briony catches Cecelia and Robbie having sex in the is an example of this because it is represented twice in the narrative and is a pivotal moment that changes the way the character think When focalizing the scene through Briony, McEwan invites the reader into the mind of a thirteen year old girl dealing with subjects far beyond her knowledge, but pretending she is old enough to understand. The reader discovers the immaturity of Briony, and t...
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...esn’t allude herself into believing that she can still atone, she never can, and that she see’s herself as “cowardly”. Unable to tell the truth like she was unable to “confront” her “bereaved sister” McEwan provides a sense of closure to her character and her personal journey. It is by delivering this closure through Briony that the intended reader is to understand that atonement for some “crimes” is never achievable. Some crimes such as hers can haunt you for the rest of your life and McEwan show us that this is the truth of atonement.
By focalizing through character the reader understands the effects atonement on an individual. By providing closure to this theme at the end of the book and emphasizing it throughout by relating character and action, and giving insight into the minds of characters that McEwan provides forward movement to the narrative via the theme.
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