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Chapter 10 analysis
One of the features of Ian McEwan's Enduring Love is his varied use of literary
devices. This willingness to experiment with narrative is used to interesting effect
throughout the novel. From the beginning the story is told in first person, which
gives the reader an insight into the feelings of the narrator, but also, as Joe is yet
another character in the story, it makes us question the reliability of his
In the chapter preceding chapter 10 the narrative changes to take on a third
person viewpoint. This makes chapter 10's first person perspective particularly
prominent because of the contrast. The fairly objective stance taken before just
amplifies the opinionated and emotional commentary Joe tells of his own life:
"My anger came off in a cold glow, childishly undirected. Parry of course was to
blame for coming between Clarissa and me, but my anger was for them both"
McEwan's use of first person conveys to the reader the anger that Joe feels, but
the irony is that Joe as a character struggles to convey emotions to others
because of his apparent rationality. Moreover, in this quote Joe almost forces his
opinion that Parry is to blame upon the reader by displaying it as fact. This
makes us connect with him because we then share the same viewpoint.
However at some points we are made to question just how factual his storytelling
can be, as when the writer uses first person narrative, we only get a onesided
account of the story, resulting in a biased description of events. Although it can
sometimes be frustrating, having an unreliable narrator generates intrigue in the
reader and captivates them. This is because we are sometimes given small
pieces of teasing information and then, because of Joe's agitated mind, the
story moves on without a full explanation. These tantalising titbits entice the
reader because they know that, as Joe is always musing over past events, he will
return to that piece of information and give a more thorough explanation and
analysis, like the scientific and systematic character he is portrayed to be:
"It was a quarter memory, a niggle, irrelevant to my purposes at the time... It was
relevant now...The key word was `curtain'"
This refers back to a previous chapter where Jed had talked markedly about
Joe's curtain but the subject was discarded, at that point, from Joe's mind.
This is an example of this novel's esteem as a pageturner, along with the
emotional attachment we feel with McEwan's absorbing character Joe, because
of the first person narrative that is cleverly utilised throughout.