Crime and Punishment for Novelists

   Ian McEwan (1948- ) is a famous contemporary British writer. He is good at sketching the inner anxiety and fear of modern people with delicate, sharp and cold writing, and discusses the issues of violence, death, love and evil. In 2002, he released "Atonement", which received a lot of praise from critics, thinking that it had both the moving plot and dramatic elements that readers liked, and the cool tone of sin and forgiveness.

  The story takes place in a manor in England in 1935. Thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis has a very rich imagination and a gift for a writer. On that day, the cousin who came to live with Tallis was raped. Briony, who had always misunderstood Robbie, the housekeeper's son, believed that Robbie was the criminal, and testified against him, so he was imprisoned. But Briony's sister, Cecilia, who is convinced of his innocence, cuts ties with her family and loves him stubbornly. Three and a half years later, Robbie was released from prison, he participated in "World War II", and Cecilia was subsequently drafted into the army. Time gradually revealed the truth. When Briony finally knew that the sinner of the year was actually Marshall, Marshall had already married her cousin, and she could no longer return Robbie's innocence. In 1940, during the famous Dunkirk retreat, Robbie died of sepsis and Cecilia died in a subway explosion not long after, and the two lovers lost their chance to reunite forever. As a result, Briony was burdened with unbearable sins. She wrote a novel "Atonement" in 59 years. In the novel, she told the truth and gave her sister and lover a happy ending.

  The story of Atonement itself is hopeless, but under McEwan's careful control, the whole work always reveals a light atmosphere, so that the text does not become too oppressive or lose its beauty due to wanton catharsis. The first half of the book is devoted to what happened during the half-day. Although it is only a few hours, the different backgrounds, experiences and psychology of the characters are displayed in the story, forming a very strong contrast: the beautiful and individual sister, the sensitive and talented sister, the smart, enterprising but Robbie, who has always been unable to get rid of the restrictions of her birth, the mother who is indifferent to world affairs and only maintains a superficial harmony, the twins who are dependent on others, the stupid but coquettish cousin, the kind and scheming eldest brother, and the boring and hateful Marshall. Such a big family provided countless corroborative explanations for that twisty night. And McEwan, at the entry point of the novel, just told the story in a eloquent tone, and then in an unexpected event, the seemingly trivial motive was infinitely magnified, and finally evolved into an out of control. absurd drama.

  It took McEwan nearly half of the book to construct the "sin" to atone for, but that's just the beginning of the story. This beginning is huge and complicated. Compared with the next 60 years, Robbie's life, Cecilia's life, Briony's confession, Robbie and Cecilia's love to the death, these should have been rich and colorful. The chapters passed by in a hurry. From the perspective of the entire novel structure, the front and rear of the text are obviously out of balance, appearing top-heavy. At this point, readers wonder, is this the author's inattentiveness and powerlessness? Can the author still find his balance?

  When the last part of the novel is presented to the reader, everything is clear, and it brings us suffocating sadness and shock. This is the wonderful layout and unique charm of McEwan's novels. It suddenly dawns on us that what we've seen from the very beginning of the novel is Briony's difficult writing about her own mistakes and her efforts to redeem herself. The novel ends in 1999, and Briony is a 77-year-old hanging man with early-stage dementia who will soon lose the ability to understand things. She told us that she wrote the story that haunted her life, and that is the bleak but complete text we've just read. Thus, we understand McEwan's deliberately arranged "book book" structure. In the story world he created, the first part is the work created by Briony. We also understand why McEwan made the first part of the novel so heavy and cluttered. Because this is exactly what Briony is explaining about the mistakes she made. That's where the story begins. It's the moment when the sin has not been committed. The veil of emotion has just been lifted. People have just cleared up a misunderstanding and shared the best time in their lives. Brionydo wanted time to stop at that moment, not 60 years later. Therefore, we also understand why the characters in the second part are pale compared to the first and third parts, the description is no longer detailed, and there are even many unreasonable plots, because this is a story she made up by relying on her imagination. Details cannot be woven by touching memory. Briony couldn't understand the cruelty Robbie faced on the front line, and she couldn't know whether she would be forgiven by Robbie and Cecilia.

  In this novel, McEwan still tortures the morality and soul of the protagonist, combining sin, darkness and irony, bringing people endless shock and heavy thinking, not knowing whether to hate or sympathize. Briony is a writer so strong that writing takes over almost all of her mind at the age of 13, while she sculpts reality with sheer self-awareness. She tried her best to break through the tedium of routine, waiting for "big events, real events, not her own fantasies, to take on her challenge and dispel her lowly feelings". Finally, in that hot and throbbing summer, she had a chance to move the dramatic story that had always existed in her own words into real reality. Things and images that look impure to her - sister's "entanglement" with Robbie by the pool, that misplaced letter with obscene text, Robbie "pinning" Cecilia to the shelf ——All confirmed the "truth" in her fantasy. The moments of good, evil and gloom in the story go from imaginary to real, almost irresistibly catering to Briony's fiery desire to prove herself. So she sees love as sexual assault. She didn't even have time to think about it, she identified the ins and outs of the story, and strongly expected the incident to develop as she thought, which eventually led to the tragedy of "Princess and Prince" in her novel, which led to the tragedy of her own life. sin. The whole event turned into a stage play directed and acted by Briony. However, she made a mistake, and her family and friends made it a sure thing. They are willing to fund a servant's son to receive the best education, and to see him have a bright future, but they are more willing to find out that this excellent child is just a rapist who cannot escape his despicableness as a servant in the end. So everyone unconsciously cooperated with Briony to complete the whole performance under the drive of their own hearts.

  Everything that happened this afternoon completely changed the lives of the three people. It was an irreparable crack. Like the vase broken by Cecilia, the wound can never be healed. The hotter the love between Robbie and Cecilia, and the better their vision of the future, the more it magnifies the mistakes and rifts that Briony made. Her life seemed to have become a long ritual for forgiveness. She gave up Cambridge University and chose the same career as her sister as a military nurse. Later, she also spent her life writing the novel "Atonement". Through writing, she restored the ugly scene of that summer, those stupid and snobbish faces, the incomparably pure love, and the self who was full of fantasies but brought disaster to others. . The only thing that has not been restored is the bleak ending of this pair of lovers who died in a foreign land.

  For a kind person, sin is like a vine with poisonous thorns, entangled in life and conscience. In desperation, people can only hope to use life to redeem a moment of peace of mind. The test that Briony faced was particularly cruel. When she wanted to repent, she had no object, so she could only go forward in despair with the shackles on her back. Briony asked herself: "How can a god-like female novelist with absolute power, who can call the wind and the rain, and guide the country, how can she obtain redemption?" So we see that she used all her strength in the second half of her life to complete herself. Atonement: In her book, Robbie and Cecilia reunite after a disaster, Briony visits their apartment, happy music plays on the radio, the room is as cluttered as it was years ago, and her sister puts the milk Mixed egg powder with water for breakfast, Robbie shaved, and they lived so real and happy together. However, some people questioned, what is the use of this fantasy ending?

  Briony gave the answer: "I deeply feel that it is not cowardice or escape, but the last great act of kindness, that the lovers in my novels will finally be reunited and reunited, and it is the end of forgetting and despair. ... if I could enchant them at the birthday party... Robbie and Cecilia are still alive, still in love, still sitting side by side in the library, facing the "Arabella's Trial" "Smile? - It's not impossible."

  Sins created by fantasy can only be redeemed by fantasy. For Briony, literary creation is the magic of creating fantasy. At the end of life, intelligence and memory will inevitably decline and become chaotic. At this time, everyone is as fragile as a sandcastle on the coast, and a little help from the outside world will make it completely collapse. Briony's Atonement is a struggle against forgetting and passing away. She understands that even if the body disappears, the truth and love preserved in the form of words will remain forever, and they will exist vividly in people's memory and will never dissipate. As the only one who survived, only in this way can she give dignity to the silent dead, and give a clear explanation of the hidden truth. "I'll wait for you, you want to come back", this life-and-death vow freezes the infinite time, the hopeless but scorching love, germinates and grows frantically, as if all the stories did not follow Briony's staggering The figure blurred and gradually died, all the love dripped into the countless silent dust, and then a flower bloomed in the dust.



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