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How do the Ian McEwan and Jeanette Winterson present the problems of growing up, the loss of innocence and guilt in "Atonement" and "Oranges are not the only fruit"?

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How do the Ian McEwan and Jeanette Winterson present the problems of growing up, the loss of innocence and guilt in "Atonement" and "Oranges are not the only fruit"? By Suzanne Coxhill Both Jeanette Winterson in "Oranges are not the only fruit" and Ian McEwan in "Atonement" explore the power given and the problems caused by sexual relationships. Through these relationships and events the characters are forced to mature and realise their true personalities. This is when we see the problems the novels are based upon arising. A lack of knowledge in certain subjects and an enhanced knowledge of other situations creates either a halt in the maturity or speeds it along too hurriedly in both sets of characters. Parts of growing up and everyday life, such as guilt and a loss of innocence are expressed fully in both novels. These create problems in growing up and adult life which we can see throughout the books. In "Oranges are not the only fruit", Jeanette Winterson presents her main character, Jeanette, rebelling against the Catholic Church and realising her true personality. She is a lesbian, something that is a sin to her church. Her different relationships are shown throughout the book, allowing us to realise the problems of individuality in large religious groups where people are alike. However, in McEwan's "Atonement", Briony's serious error leads to the family being split up in different directions. After witnessing a sexual encounter between her sister, Cecilia, and Robbie her boyfriend, Briony believes this to be a violent attack and when Lola, Briony's cousin gets raped on the premises, Briony lies and says she saw Robbie at the scene. As we progress through the lives of each of the characters in both novels, these characters are followed allowing us to see the effect of the past events on their present and future lives. The idea of growing up and regretting the past is also shown, making us see how these novelists have compared their books to real life situations that they maybe have experienced or which we can relate to our own lives. ...read more.


The innocence Jeanette's mother is expected to have being a God like creature is not true. She causes many problems for Jeanette and it seems that her reasons for her behaviour are purely selfish. She does good works for Pastor Spratt in order to make herself look better just as her offering of this trained child should do. She is presented as knowing that what she is doing is not what her daughter wants. This creates even more dislike towards her as we know that Jeanette's life is not the same as her mothers. McEwan presents Briony in an innocent light. She knows nothing about sex and is therefore shocked by what she sees happening between her sister and her boyfriend; "her immediate understanding was that she had interrupted an attack". She does not know that what she is saying is wrong, as she believes what she is seeing to be bad. The lack of communication on the subject with her mother is again, as in "Oranges are not the only fruit", a major issue. She is very childlike in many ways, we expect her to be a lot younger than the age she actually is, 13. We see her grow up immensely at the chance of being able to help her older, more attractive cousin, Lola, "Briony was there to help Lola at every stage". Although she believes that she has been "childish and innocent" in thinking that her sister, Cecilia would be Robbie's only victim, she is much mistaken and this dramatic irony really grips us. As an innocent young girl this coincidental event means that she will cause disruption with her story telling. Briony is also created as a character with a wild imagination. From a very young age she is shown writing stories and plays and using words that average children of her age would not use, "this is the tale of spontaneous Arabella". ...read more.


CONCLUSION A lack of maturity in both girls creates problems however, it is not true that the innocence of the children is purely to blame for the events that happen in both Atonement and Oranges are not the only fruit. The families in which the girls are placed are not suitable for children like these to be growing up in. for instance in Jeanette Winterson's novel, we are specifically put in a religious family who do not agree with homosexuality. This creates the affect that what Jeanette is doing is wrong however; in a different family her actions could have been quite normal. Similarly, in Atonement, a lack of attention off her mother means that Briony feels she needs to become someone she isn't, we can see this through her acting in plays and writing of stories. In these situations the innocence we feel coming from the girls grows. Jeanette Winterson seems to create innocence in a good way. Jeanette is innocent and therefore her true feelings come out and she is finally able to live life as she has always wanted, free of the church. I think that the knowledge she gains throughout the book makes her realise that the world isn't so innocent and she begins to understand that people cannot always be what they want to be. However, it is her original naivety that allows her to break free in the first place. We do not see what she is doing in bad and are in fact very happy for her. In Atonement however, we feel less sympathy for the wrong doer. The way in which McEwan creates Briony Tallis does not allow us to feel pity for the mistake she made in her innocence. The innocence is seen as a bad thing with which a lack of maturity leads to terrible consequences. She lies in order to grab the attention of everyone around her and only realises that what she has done is so terrible later on in life when she realises that she now has the attention of her parents. ...read more.

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