Literature 2012 Unit 4 Outcome 1 Creative Responses to texts. Atonement Ian McEwan Written in 2001. S hortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction and the Whitbread Novel Award and winner of the W. H. Smith Literary Award . The film adaptation was released in 2007. . PART ONE.
Written in 2001. Shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction and the Whitbread Novel Award and winner of the W. H. Smith Literary Award . The film adaptation was released in 2007.
Comment on the social context and how this impacted the characters. Consider the class status, gender roles, the threat of war
How might he want his reader to view issues pertaining to 1935? What are his views and values regarding the context of 1935?
(Consider Briony’s desire to be an adult, Cecilia’s expected female role, her ‘torpor’ regarding leaving the family home, her love for Robbie, Robbie’s love for Cecilia, his desire to be successful)
Look again at the first chapters of the novel. Consider McEwan’s use of language. How does he describe the events and emotions of the character? How does his writing develop the novel? You need to consider:
In the early evening, high altitude clouds in the western sky formed a thin yellow wash which became richer over the hour, end then thickened until a filtered orange glow hung above the giant crests of parkland trees; the leaves became nutty brown, the branches glimpsed among the foliage oily black, and the desiccated grasses took on the colours of the sky... Though the sun was weakening as it dropped, the temperature seemed to rise because the breeze that had brought faint relief all day had faded, and now the air was still an heavy. pg. 78
Why did McEwan include this description? How did it develop the tone at this point of the novel? How is it reflective of Robbie’s character?
But perhaps – he had rolled onto his back – he should not believe in her outrage. Wasn’t it too theatrical? Surely she must have meant something better, even in her anger. Even in her anger, she had wanted to show him just how beautiful she was and bind him to her. How could he trust such a self serving idea derived from hope and desire? pg. 81
Even when Robbie is considering how much he was in love in Cecilia, and how frustrating it was, McEwan uses formal language. What is the impact of this? How does it develop his character? The tone of this section of the plot? How does it develop key concerns of the text?
At some moments chilling, at others desperately sad, the play told a tale of the heart whose message, conveyed in a rhyming prologue, was that love which did not build a foundation on good sense was doomed. pg. 3
Briony was hardly to know it then, but this was the project’s highest point of fulfilment pg. 4
...she had no secrets. Her wish for a harmonious, organised world denied her the reckless possibilities of wrong doing. Mayhem and destruction were too chaotic for her tastes, and she did not have it in her to be cruel. pg. 5
This activity develops your ability to write in the author’s style
Imagine you are a character from the text. Write a passage in McEwan’s style – for example:
(You could imagine you are a character from the text)
Explain your answer in 150 words
How could you link the three parts to Victorian, Modern and Postmodern writing
Explain your reasoning. Provide evidence to support your ideas.
Attempt to write your own definition
Writing Task: 80 words
Your opinion: Is atonement for the benefit of the individual or for those who were wronged?
Make a list of the actions/crimes that require some form of redemption.
You will need to consider:
Is there something that you have felt guilt/remorse over?
Write out a letter of atonement to someone in your life. (It can be linked to your life, or fictional)
QUESTIONS EXPLORED IN THE TEXT
In her letters to Robbie, Cecilia quotes from W. H. Auden's 1939 poem, "In Memory of W. B. Yeats," which includes the line, "Poetry makes nothing happen."
Write down your ideas to the following questions:
In Austen's novel Catherine Norland's mistakes are comical and have no serious outcome, while in Atonement, Briony's fantasies have tragic effects upon those around her.
Respond to the following question:
What is McEwan implying about the power of the imagination, and its potential for harm when unleashed into the social world?