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Another Example Of Truth In Fiction

One thing I love about Atonement is the character development of Briony, the main protagonist in the novel. The story takes place during three time periods in her life–the final one being when she is a famous novelist approaching the end of her life.

During this final portion of the novel, Briony reminds me a lot of Iris Chase from The Blind Assassin. She just says what’s on her mind in stereotypical old lady fashion.

And every now and then, she’ll throw a little zinger out there, like this one toward the end of the novel:

“It is quite impossible these days to assume anything about people’s educational level from the way they talk or dress or from their taste in music. Safest to treat everyone you meet as a distinguished intellectual.”

How true that is. Contrast that statement, which occurs in 1999, with the time period in which Briony grew up, during World War 2.

In a world where billionaires like Mark Cuban wear flip flops, jeans, and t-shirts, it really is pointless to make snap judgments of people based on their appearance. How much different a world would we live in if we all treated everyone we met with dignity and respect, and let them prove otherwise, instead of the other way around?

Something to think about. And that’s what good novels do. They get you thinking beyond the novel and into your own reality. That’s why you really can learn a lot from fiction. Anyone that tells you otherwise, that it’s just an “escape,” needs to take a breath and attempt to have a creative thought.

Agree? Disagree? Don’t care?

8 Comments Post a comment
  1. Rebecca Scaglione #

    I agree completely! My husband and I are young, in our 20s, and when we would walk into furniture stores to look for a couch, coffee table, etc, there were many times when no one even said hello to us, just based on our age. You have no idea how much money, education, or intelligence someone has until you get to know them, and judging by first appearances alone is very misleading!

    Thanks for the insightful post!

    -Rebecca from LoveAtFirstBook


    September 18, 2012
  2. I definitely agree. I can’t remember the name of the book, but it was about the new rich and the super rich and how there is just a relaxed sense of decorum and they’ll dress down and you won’t know who you’re talking to. Same thing with intellectuals, I mean some you can tell because they fit into that professor stereotype/mold, but then you meet someone so far from it you’re gobsmacked.


    September 18, 2012
  3. This is funny, I was just having a similar conversation with a song writer friend of mine. We both write fiction….we’re both liars. We observe what’s going on around us and then we create a story or music and lyrics to explore it, where it is safe……where we are detached from it in some obscure way. And we both agreed that we try to leave enough room for the reader/listener. Great post as usual!

    As far as the quote in Atonement, I try to live by the golden rule: treat people the way you want to be treated.


    September 18, 2012
  4. thestoryofmoney123 #

    i write and read a lot of memoir – but fiction can’t be discounted. it’s a form to be respected, for sure. and “escapist” fiction exists but that speaks more to the quality and intent of the fiction more than it does to the genre in general.

    i love that you are reading atonement. i really enjoyed the movie. i tried really, really hard to read this book a few years ago while i was traveling. i was so excited. it was the only book i brought with me and my intent was to read it and to finish it. i absolutely LOVED the beginning and thought: geez this writing, it’s so innovative, what’s he doing with it, i’ve got to find out. but something happened midway through, i can’t even remember (maybe I’m mind blocking it), and i stopped reading. i left the book behind in a moldy motel in the middle of nowhere in China. 😦


    September 18, 2012
  5. sylviemarieheroux #

    Aaaaaah, you mentioned a Margaret Atwood book, my very favorite author….. I am going to faint….


    September 18, 2012
  6. Really enjoyed this novel and the film that followed it. An interesting and unfortunate character Briony, whose insights come a little late to undo the damage, but isn’t that often the case. Great quote.


    September 19, 2012
  7. I have such a fondness for Iris Chase. I need to re-read that book!


    September 20, 2012

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