Discuss the Authors Treatment of time in a novel you have studied .

Kate Atkinson uses the treatment of time very effectively in her novel Behind the scenes at the museum. Her Main Character Ruby narrates us through the story using an omniscient voice of a child. She tells us of her past but at the same time, she questions the truth about her family and her self-identity. This essay seeks to discover how Atkinson uses the past, footnotes, setting and her post modernist style as a technique in the treatment of time.

The narrative is a common first person narrative, but at the same time, it is very unusual. Ruby speaks in the present tense but knows the future and what people are thinking. This technique gives Ruby a more "knowing" voice that can see ahead of us but is still unable to share with us the withdrawn knowledge that she is trying to find out herself. This is shown from the very first lines of the novel; "I exist! I am conceived to the chimes of midnight on the clock on the mantelpiece in the room across the hall." This is where Ruby talks about her own conception which is very unusual as it seems impossible to be able talk about your own birth while being conceived. At the same time Atkinson is able to express herself as the narrator. Ruby also talks about herself when she is an embryo; "and why do I have this strange feeling, as if me shadow's stitched to my back, almost as if there's someone else in here with me? Am I being haunted by my own embryonic ghost?" This is the hidden mystery about Ruby's twin sister Pearl, which Ruby never realises until the end of the story. This is how time plays a very important part.

Ruby's past has been made up of lies and dishonesty. She is never told the truth about her sister Pearl as her mother Bunty tries to block it out of her life. This is the mystery that Ruby tries to solve through out the entire novel. Because Ruby is the narrator, she is unable to tell us about Pearl as well, But Atkinson cleverly gives us hints and clues all through out the story.