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How Does McEwan Tell the Story in Chapter 9 of ‘Enduring Love’? Essay

Ian McEwan uses a variety of techniques in order to tell the story throughout the novel ‘Enduring Love’. Looking at Chapter 9 in close detail I am going to analyse the ways in which McEwan tells the story with the use of form, structure and language. The majority of the novel is told in the first person however chapter 9 has a third person narrative and is in the present tense. McEwan uses Joe’s narratives in order to explain Clarissa’s perspective. This shifting perspective gives the reader a chance to see Joe from another person’s point of view. By using Clarissa’s perspective, McEwan has created a sense of empathy towards her as Joe is ‘conversationally deaf and blind’ towards her feelings. However it could be argued that this chapter of the novel is more Joe trying to understand Clarissa’s point of view rather than actually telling the story from her perspective, showing the reader only what Joe think she feels other than what she actually does.

Creating an unreliable narrative. Also in chapter 9 the genre is portrayed as more of a romance than a thriller as McEwan uses contemporary romance rather than scientific vocabulary within the narrative, ‘Where’s my kiss? Hug me! Take care of me!’ The use of this romantic narrative takes the novel away from the typical thriller genre in order to tell the story. Although chapter 9 is shown to be of a romantic genre, it still includes conventions which McEwan uses to suggest that the novel is a psychological thriller. The use of a relationship breakdown within this chapter gives the reader this idea. As well as this, towards the end of the chapter the reader is reminded of Joe’s stalker, ‘he sees Parry waiting for him at the end of the brick path he does not even break his stride’ The fact that Jed Parry is waiting at the end of the road for Joe also brings back the idea of a psychological thriller genre. McEwan uses the pace within this chapter in order to effectively tell the story, at the beginning the pace of the narrative is slow, Clarissa is tired and the use of sentences and description suggest that she is calm.

It isn’t until the argument breaks out between Joe and Clarissa that the pace begins to pick up. This increased pace within the narrative shows the anger and frustration within Clarissa and is the first sign of the relationship breakdown. Throughout the chapter McEwan shows a sense of frustrated within Clarissa, ‘She stands in the bath and snatches a towel to cover herself’, the idea of ‘snatching’ seems out of character for Clarissa and helps to portray her anger towards Joe and his growing obsession with the accident and the idea that Parry is stalking him. Furthermore, McEwan uses figurative language in order to tell the story, ‘he’s raising his voice over the thunder of the taps’, this use of language could be seen to foreshadow the thunderous argument with is later going to happen between Joe and Clarissa.

The irritation within Clarissa is presented in this chapter through the use of figurative language, ‘Joe is hanging in the frame of the bathroom door like some newly discovered non-stop talking ape. Talking, but barely self aware’ Using this quote within the narrative shows how much Joe is getting on Clarissa’s nerves, supporting the idea of a relationship breakdown. The fact that Joe won’t stop talking while she’s trying to relax builds tension within the narrative as Clarissa’s frustration begins to increase suggesting that an argument is about to happen. Throughout chapter 9, Clarissa presents the idea that Joe may not be sane as she discards his claims about Jed Parry, ‘you were so intense about him as soon as you met him. It’s like you invented him’ she suggests to the reader that Joe is imagining everything to do with Jed and the idea that he is stalking him, Clarissa believes that it is just an effect after the trauma of the balloon accident, leaving Joe unstable and ill.

McEwan uses this to give the reader another perspective of Joe’s claims as until now we only see the idea that Jed is following Joe. Within this chapter of the novel, the reader becomes aware that Joe is in turn becoming obsessed with Jed, ‘you ought to be asking yourself which way this fixation runs’ Clarissa suggests Joe’s obsession at the same time as discarding this claims about Jed. However at the very end of the chapter we see that Jed is waiting for Joe at the end of the road, reassuring the reader of the reality of the stalker and giving the conventions of a psychological thriller. McEwans use of Jed in this chapter is important as it gives the reader an element of trust within it’s narrator as they begin to believe Joe’s perspective over Clarissa’s.


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