Obscenity In Ian Mcewan's Atonement

1472 Words6 Pages
Obscenity is a touchy subject for most. Like morality it is something that has a different definition for each person no one person can define it exactly the same as the rest. Ian McEwan’s novel Atonement gives us plenty of examples of obscenity when Robbie Turner is sent off to war after being falsely accused of rape. The horrors he will see on the battlefield will scar him and permanently change his reactions to different situations. It will harden him strip away his individuality and make him into a new person. Robbie’s journey to try and get back to Cecelia will be interrupted by dismembered legs of children, exploding women and children, and mass graves of innocent people. These horrible things will not phase him he will be changed into…show more content…
It was a perfect leg, pale smooth, small enough to be a child's. The way it was angled in the fork it seemed to be on display for their benefit or enlightenment: This is a leg” (McEwan 180). Robbie is haunted by the image of a child’s severed leg, wedged in a tree. Imagine it being one of your first days as a soldier and you come upon this the leg of a dead child, a clean cut no blood just the severed leg of a child. Obscene is the only way to describe it. You think you are joining the army for valor and honor but in reality you come across the dismembered leg of a child who didn’t even serve in the war they were just a bystander a casualty of war, a statistic for the history books. A truly horrific and depressing thing to come across. After seeing this horrific thing Robbie runs ahead because he is so disgusted at what he saw he has to “throw up or crap, he didn’t know which” (McEwan 180). He didn’t want the men to see him vulnerable unable to stomach what he had just been exposed to so he makes sure he is far enough ahead of them that they don’t see him. Robbie is completely broken by this moment and is reduced to defecating. It is a movement filled with obscenity not only the leg itself but Robbie's reaction to the horrifically disgusting thing he witnessed. This is the first major case of obscenity in part…show more content…
We see this in the way he acts toward finding a shallow grave of dead women and children. “Minutes later they passed five bodies in a ditch three women, two children” (McEwan 206). Robbie doesn’t seem to be bothered by the dead women and children as when it’s said that, “Turner looked away, determined not to be drawn in if he was going to survive he would have to keep his eye on the sky” (McEwan 206). Not only is he no longer referred to as “Robbie” but he also has developed a much stiffer attitude. Instead of defecating like last time he just keeps his head up and moves forward. No morning no weeping this display of dead women and children has become normal for him and that is a horrifying thing to imagine. This is one of the first examples of Turner becoming harder and changed by the

    More about Obscenity In Ian Mcewan's Atonement

      Open Document