“Pass the Amo!”: Metonymy and Class in Ian McEwan’s Atonement

Megan Halford


In Atonement, McEwan uses objects as metonyms to draw parallels between characters and events. I focus on the Army Amo ration bar, whose colour, historical context, and depiction during significant passages of the novel highlight the inequalities of class and age and their relationship to war. These inequalities are most evident in the characters Paul Marshall, who rapes a young girl, and Robbie Turner, who is convicted of the crime. Paul has wealth, provided by chocolate manufacturing, whereas Robbie is poor. Their positions in the social hierarchy—rather than their innocence or guilt—determine how the other characters treat them.

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EISSN  1927-4599
University of Victoria