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How does McEwan tell the story in chapter 20?
Crime and tragic happenings: From the outset of chapter 20, there are
multiple references to the `bloodbath', `lunchtime nightmare', restaurant
outrage' that occurred earlier that same day. With the chapter introduced in
such a way, it creates the tone that will prevail through the rest of the chapter
that being down beat and crime ridden. Furthermore, the fact that the events
that unravelled in the restaurant were making headlines in the evening paper,
refers back to chapter 5 where Joe describes the `death related' incidents that
were being documented on the TV news. This is ironic because it seems that
Joe has fixated on these horrendous events that have occurred, and now his
life has become one of the documented tragedies. Crime is then later
foreshadowed at the end of the chapter when Joe makes the decision to call
his old acquaintance, Johnny in pursuit of a gun.
Doubt: The doubt in this chapter not only comes from the reliability of Joe's
narration, but also first hand from the characters within the novel specifically
from the officer, Detective Constable Wallace. Wallace clearly doesn't believe
that Joe is right in what he is claims and wonders why Joe had not recognised
Parry straight away. He asks Joe to go through his statement in detail and
then tells him that it disagrees in important details with the accounts given by
Clarissa and Professor Kale. He finally tells Joe that several of the witnesses
from the restaurant had heard one of the gunmen say something and most of
them thought he spoke Arabic. Moreover, there had been an attempt on Mr
Tapp's life in Addis Ababa eighteen months earlier. This creates doubt within
the readers mind about whether or not the account that was earlier provided
by Joe was factually accurate of perhaps he was overwhelmed by the whole
thing. Evidence towards the unreliability come in the form of Joe's mistakes, in
particular his mistake when describing his desert as `apple ice cream' to
Wallace, when he had earlier described it as Lime Sorbet.
Internal monologue/first person narrative by Joe. It's significant that the
focalisation is through Joe at this point of the novel as the shooting
incident is shaped in a way that highlights Joe's hyperawareness and
obsession with death, crime and Parry. Alternatively, this technique is
perhaps used to present Joe as insane/irrational, making the reader take
sides with Clarissa's new judgments of Joe.
Detective and thriller novel genre.
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Here's a taster:
Some interjection by Clarissa and Detective Wallace which suggests
they're against Joe. Both seem to pity Joe and believe that he is too
caught up with Parry that he's unable to think straight.
`Look Joe, just tell them what you saw, OK? Don't go on about your
usual stuff' Clarissa. Show's how Clarissa's attitudes towards Joe have
`We think so. You won't like this, Mr Rose. But I'm going to ask you to
give it to me again.' (the statement) Wallace.…read more