Ian McEwan's novel, "Atonement" is a remarkable manifestation of love and war, childhood and class, guilt and forgiveness, admired highly for its focus on understanding and responding to the significance of atonement. The book itself is placed into three time periods: one being set in England in 1935, the next covering five years later during the events of the Second World War, and the last overlooking present-day England. It circles around a young woman named Briony Tallis who aspires her entire life to shine the light of true redemption to right and rewrite the countless wrongs of her youth, as to finally succumb to the guilt which haunts her state of mind from her journey of childhood to adulthood. Through her writings, she attempts to reach atonement for her incomplete grasp of adult motives and precocious imagination which foreshadowed her mistake of accusing an innocent (and eventually getting him convicted) of an atrocity, for which another, as well as Briony herself, is at fault. This inhibition of immaturity imprisons not only the body but the mind and soul behind the bars of shame, regret, and responsibility. McEwan utilizes literature to provide insight into human nature through his clever interpretation of humanity's fragility at the mercy of war along with literary preservation through history.
1. Quote: "It also gave her all the pleasures of miniaturization. A world could be made in five pages with all the life they contained." (7).
Analysis: Gifted with a talent and dedicated with a passion for writing, Briony uses this ability throughout the novel to document her comprehension of events in her lifetime, truth and fiction. Since childhood, she has been aware of such power hidden within the ink and strokes of the pen. As a writer, Briony uses her understanding of the complete and utter control she has in creating and destroying stories to convey and alter reality.