The Topic Of Rape In Atonement And The Road

April 27, 2022 by Essay Writer

Atonement and The Road are defined by the children character who plays a central role in the representations of their childhood and illustrate how environment and experiences affect their moral decision making. In The Road, the son plays a central role in the representation of childhood, and how a father can nurture his son to aid in the development process. In Atonement, Briony is used to represent how various environmental factors during childhood can influence an individual as they transition into adulthood. The change in moral responsibilities of the central character as they grow into adulthood can be understood by exploring the principles/ideologies of guilt, innocence, perceptions and misunderstandings in childhood. Atonement exemplifies how reckless behaviours during childhood contributes to a life full of guilt in adulthood, as ‘a person is, among all else, a material thing, easily torn and not easily mended’ (McEwan 4133). This is demonstrated through the characterization of Briony Tallis. Briony Tallis’ life during her childhood is associated with moral ambiguity and doubts that contribute to severe problems and broken relationships among her family members. McEwan develops this idea by writing ‘The very complexity of her feelings confirmed Briony in her view that she was entering an arena of adult emotion and dissembling from which her writing was bound to benefit’ (McEwan 1526). Briony devotes the rest of her life repenting about the crimes she had committed throughout her youth which ultimately affects her adult emotions. 

The author also develops ideologies on guilt and how childhood mistakes can affect their adult lives. The text indicates the regrets of Briony from her past mistakes as well as extending to the other characters who feel guilty of the actions they have been engaging in since childhood. For example, Paul Marshall gets away with a rape case, while an innocent man – Robbie, gets punished for the crimes he did not commit. The author continues to reveal mistakes that ultimately broke up relationships as well as feelings of guilt represented through Briony’s rape accusation claims to Robbie. Briony is confident that she has the powers to write whatever story she chooses but feels that all her previous drafts were pitiless. The activities that Briony engage in are the manifestations of her guilty past, emotional moral ambiguity, and mistakes as a child. McEwan writes ‘How guilt refined the methods of self-torture, threading the beads of detail into an eternal loop” (McEwan 2359). Briony is trying to mend her broken relationships and start new relationships as an adult through forgiveness and Atonement because she is overwhelmed by her feelings of guilt. Subsequently, The Road represents the significance of familial love and the need to maintain this love from childhood to adulthood. By writing “This is my child, he said. I wash a dead man’s brains out of his hair. That is my job” (McCarthy 72), McCarthy illustrates paternal love, and the father’s desire to protect and take care of his son. His moral responsibilities and choices prevent incidences of guilt or reckless life that may cause problems in the future. The two main characters, a father and a son, have strong familial love that helps the boy persevere through tough times. 

The Road represents the importance of love and optimism to push through the struggles of daily survival, while Atonement represents breakages of relationships that cause problems and feelings of guilt among people. The two texts demonstrate differences in survival and familial love among people to accomplish a relevant central task successfully. The transition of childhood to adulthood can be understood through presentation and perceptions of the children’s social environments. Through the phrase, ‘though you think the world is at your feet, it can rise up and tread on you’ (McEwan 230) McEwan hints how naive childhood interpretation/perceptions of their environment can come to affect adult lives. Briony’s misguided perception of the rape and her naïve interpretation of Cecilia and Robbie in the library all lead to misappropriation of emotions – due to perception – during childhood, which affected her emotionally into adulthood. Atonement characterizes social environment based on romantic psychological development during childhood that escalates to adulthood. Briony’s ability to channels the emotions of her childhood experiences/perceptions empowers her to write and later helps for the Atonement of her sins, as she claims, “At that moment, the urge to be writing was stronger than any notion she had of what she might write” (McEwan 1553). She’s driven to write the topics that relevant in determining her progress in life. The Road demonstrates the strong social perceptions of father and son, for their own security which gives them the ability to accomplish the challenges of everyday life. McCarthy illustrates the efforts of the father to support his son to adjust to the post-apocalyptic world. In the determination to ease the burden his son may face from the dangerous environment, the father continuously supports his son through guidance and support by saying things such as, ‘Hold him in your arms. Just so. The soul is quick’ (McCarthy 105). 

Both texts set the basis for the emotional developments that may arise from social experiences and perceptions during development/transition into adulthood. The ideologies on perceptions and misinterpretation are important in determining the development and progression of relationships among family and friends. Both authors enable the reader to understand issues of childhood, and which are perceived to be either good or bad for an individual. Briony hopes to correct her misconception and rebuild broken relationships. Consequently, in The Road, the father hopes to leave his son with the perception of hope in accomplishing life’s challenges and developing one’s own strengths as a human being. Additionally, The Road continuously promotes perceptions on the importance of love and social development to enable for psychological accomplishment and daily survival. The two texts evaluate how the social environment and perceptions in childhood (Briony and the son) affects their moral choice and responsibilities. The ideas on innocence are represented differently in the two texts through the loss and the gain of it. In Atonement, Briony loses her innocence while in The Road, the son gains innocence. Briony’s loss of innocence generates problems in her future life regarding her misguided observations concerning Robbie and Cecilia, Lola’s rape, and false accusation of Robbie to the authorities. Briony is too young to notice that she has lost her innocence and protection from her family because of her behaviours and continued misperceptions of reality. Robbie’s arrest through Briony actions shows a great loss of innocence that creates problems and destroys relationships. 

On the other hand, The Road demonstrates how a father can instill hope to his son to gain innocence and to learn to be a strong person in the future who can stand on his own. Ideologies on innocence in the two texts pose as an important aspect during childhood periods that should be nurtured to adulthood to enable for strong character development. It is an important factor in building relationships in order to promote growth and development and to accomplish various challenges in human life. Atonement and The Road use the ideas of guilt, innocence, and interpretation. These ideas are represented by child character who play central roles, who are moulded by their actions, environment, and experiences. McEwan uses Briony to illustrate how her innocence resulted in misinterpretation of the events that were occurring around her, and how her actions – due to these misperceptions, resulted in her guilt. McEwan gives a glimpse of how Briony’s moral responsibilities have changed by revealing the book was her act of Atonement. On the other hand, McCarthy uses both the son and father to illustrate the moral responsibilities of the father/adult to those around them, and his will to protect the innocence of his son. Both novels provide unique depictions of childhood, and how environment and experiences affect children in making moral decisions, and even those of adults around them. 


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