The opening of a piece of literature is very important as it is responsible for creating the interest and anticipation that will drive the reader to carry on and enjoy it. Readers expect openings to include a couple of key areas like the setting, the introduction of characters and interest through a form of enigma or tension. Ian McEwan’s Enduring Love both conforms and challenges what a reader would expect of an opening through opening on what seems to be a climactic point of the book. Opening with the balloon incident immediately creates tension. McEwan’s choice of opening sentence is particularly effective. “the beginning is simple to mark” firstly because this foreshadows that the event will be colossus, and that the reader is the lucky one how gets to discover what happens.
And secondly that starting a story with “the beginning” links quite strongly to religion and creates this biblical tone right from the start. This is interesting because religion is what Joe seems to disagree with seeing as he is very scientific and this choice of wording seems to ominously suggest a link between Joe and Jed and in fact how similar they are. The opening also introduces the narrative voice in enduring love which is particularly important because the story is told through the first person retrospective narrative of Joe rose. This causes the reader to form a sense of reliability and truth as is required as the story is told through only one person’s experience.
The inclusion of words like ”labyrinth” implies that confusion and complication are a part of the story and causes the reader to rely even more on the narrate voice of Joe. The reference to various senses heightens verisimilitude as every detail felt through the senses of the character is described. “As the cool neck and the black foil touched my hand”. Furthermore including such fine details creates an early sense of reliability in the narrative voice.
There are numerous references to the wind in the opening which is involved with the tranquil setting but stands out as “strong gusty wind” suggests danger and creates tension. There is also the personification of the wind “the wind roared” linking the wind to animalistic foreshadows that it will be a danger. The image of the buzzard is also significant as it creates a filmic perspective on the event, like the buzzard is the omniscient creature that observes the already highly anticipated event. The buzzard’s image of being all-seeing and free can be linked to the image of God and once again further to Jed.
Courtney from Study Moose
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