Story Telling: A Potent Tool In Ian Mc Ewan's Atonement And Washington Irvin's The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow

1643 words - 7 pages

Although storytelling can be seen as a form of creative writing, the novel Atonement by Ian McEwan and the short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irvin both suggest that storytelling serves as a means for exaggerating actual events. This is significant because the partially deceitful elements tend to mold the reader’s judgment of what really happens.
In the novel Atonement by Ian McEwan, Thirteen year old Briony Tallis is gifted with the ability of words. Briony’s ability to tell stories often leaves the audience questioning whether Briony’s account of events actually took place or if they are a mere figment of her imagination. The first time that this is seen is when Briony discovers Robbie and her sister, Cecilia, in the library and she mistakes Robbie and Cecilia’s passionate encounter for an attack against Cecilia. The narrator states, “Though they were immobile, her immediate understanding was that she had interrupted an attack, a hand-to-hand fight. The scene was so entirely a realization of her worst fears that she sensed that her overanxious imagination had projected figures onto the packed spines of books. This illusion, or hope of one, was dispelled as her eyes adjusted to the gloom…Briony stared past Robbie’s shoulder into the terrified eyes of her sister. He had pushed his body against hers…He looked so huge and wild, and Cecilia with her bare shoulders and thin arms so frail…” (McEwan 116). Everything about this recital of events paints Robbie as a raging maniac. At this point the reader might question is this really an attack, because Briony continues to paint Robbie as a maniac. For a split second the reader begins to question whether this recital of events Briony witnesses was a willing act of intimacy between Cecilia and Robbie or if it was in actuality a helpless attack against Cecilia. That night at dinner when the twins get lost and Lola is raped, Briony is the only witness. Briony is so persistent and assertive that the attacker is in fact Robbie that it almost forces the reader to believe that it could not have been anyone but Robbie. “‘It was Robbie, wasn’t it?’ the maniac she wanted to say the word. Lola said nothing and did not move. Briony said it again, this time without the trace of a question. It was a statement of fact. ‘It was Robbie.’…‘Listen to me I couldn’t mistake him. I’ve known him all my life. I saw him’” (McEwan 156-157). At this point we are aware that Lola is unsure of who it was but when Briony says she has known him her entire life that in a sense solidifies Lola’s opinion as well. I believe the reader really begins to question the situation when she forces the idea into Lola’s mind. She is so persuasive that she convinces Lola that it was in fact Robbie, and thus forces the reader to believe it to be the truth as well. Again Briony’s performance when she talked with the police made us question if Robbie was really a rapist. Briony became so emotional and began to cry when she...

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