Ian McEwan: The Cement Garden

(1029 words)

McEwan's first novel concerns a family of abandoned children coming to terms with life without their parents. It is about their simultaneous growth into adults and regression as children. The novel might indeed have been called the semen garden, concerned as it is with creation (nature) and procreation (animal). The main character is Jack, an adolescent who at the start of the novel masturbates for the first time as his father has a heart-attack and dies. The boy jacks off on to his hand and then watches the ejaculated semen dry like cement: “As I watched, it dried to a barely visible shiny crust which cracked when I flexed my wrist. I decided not to wash it away.” Little in this book is washed away, from dirt to guilt, but …

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Childs, Peter. "The Cement Garden". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 08 January 2001
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=1289, accessed 28 November 2015.]