Balloon Incident - Structure
- Most important event in the novel
- Rather than build up to a climax, McEwan starts with one (atypical)
- Rest of the book seen as the 'falling action'
- Perhaps even anti-climatic after this dramatic point?
- Structurally - it's signficant in the consequences it creates
- Most notably, it begins the conflict between Joe and Jed
- Dramatic nature of the events, contrasts with the idyllic setting of Joe and Clarissa's romantic picnic - symbolic of disruption of their love
Balloon Incident - Dramatic Nature
- Incident is described dramatically
- From the men's struggles to keeping the balloon down
- "the rope ran through my grip, scorching my palms"
- To the suspense in the final moments
- "And still he hung there. For two seconds, three, four. And then he let go"
- Simple, short sentances creates a tense, fast-paced build up to Logan's death
- Signficant in it's own right as a gripping narrative event
Chapter One - Relationship between Jed and Joe
- Before the incident they are described as "rushing towards each other like lovers"
- And then as being "blocked by the balloon that lay between them"
- These two images symbolize their relationship
- 1st - Idea that they are a pair of "lovers" foreshadows Jed's obsession with Joe
- Ironically hints at Joe's gradual reciprocal obsession
- 2nd - Balloon between them representing the divide between the two, which builds up throughout the novel - they can never see each others view point
Introduction to Joe Rose's Narrative Voice
- RETROSPECTIVE - He swtiches between intellectual reflection, retrospective point of view and the immediacy of the event
- This slows the pace and shows how he often digresses from the action
- UNRELIABLE - As the book progresses, McEwan deliberately makes us question Joe's rationality
- Especially in the interview after the resteraunt shooting
- By constructing this objective, rational style - it adds to the impact of his seeming dissintergration of his believability later on
Pathetic Fallacy (wind in Balloon Accident)
"Precarious form of transport when the wind, rather than the pilot, set the course"
- Joe's passing thought upon first seeing the ballon in this chance encounter with the incident
- Both foreshadows the accident by calling it "precarious" and precipitates the struggle for control that will follow.
- He remarks on the wind's power in balloon travel , Joe evokes a feeling of powerlesness and chance.
- He soon finds out, all the character's are subject to chance's power
- Joe struggles to gain power over several characters in the novel
- Including physical power over Jed and emotional power over Clarissa
- Quote suggests that a real threat to Joe's power and sel-sufficiency is chance - soemthing he cannot rationalise or fight against
- In order to make the revelation more manageable - Joe "instantly" forget it
- In coming chapters, chooses to see Parry and C as real threats to his power
"The beginning is simple to mark" "I've already marked my beginning" "beginning is an artifice"
- McEwan cautions the reader through Joe to be skeptical of what follows
- "artifice" suggesting what follows next must be artificial in some way
- Joe questions the truth in stories, forcing the reader to question the truth in EL
- Aspects of metafiction, as McEwan tells the reader the purpose of stories - to make sense
- Joe will spend the novel trying to make sense of John Logan's senseless fall by retreating into science and research
- Sense of the concepts of love and knowledge - whilst indirectly challenging them
- With Joe's awareness of his artifice - the reader becomes aware of the artifice of Enduring Love
Chapter Two - "Threading single perceptions into narrative"
- Joe plays with the idea of creating a narrative
- Experience of Logan's death in its raw form is too awful for them to handle
- Joe uses the metaphor of 'crafting' to explain their struglle of putting the "unspeakable into forms of words"
- They hammer away at the shapless and unintlligible form form of Jogan's death - and to shape into something that has meaning
- Joe compares narrative-making to sewing
- They combine isolated perceptions and experiences into a story
Different Perceptions - Joe and Clarissa
Chapter 8 "Truth in that smitle was in the eye and heart of the parent, and in the unfolding love...That smile must be hard-wired, and for good evolutionary reasons. Clarissa said I had not understood her"
- Highlights the contrasting "readings" of Clarissa and Joe, in one of their "table sessions"
- In their argument - the 'meaning' of a baby's smile
- Clarissa uses emotional and symbolic approach
- Joe uses a rational and scientific one
- Despite its multifaceted critique of neo-Darwinism, Enduring Love does in fact hold out hope for a rapprochement between the sciences and the humanities
- As a result of their different viewpoints - find it hard to understnad one another
- Core of their disagreement - confusion over what they're discussing
- Clarissa - speaking about love & Joe - C's desire for children
- Inability to merge their viewpoints - prevents them
- Highlights the lack that their relationship has - children
- Althought their love seems perfect at the beginning, Jed is able to divide them by exploiting the "lacks" and differences in their relationship.
Jed's First Letter
"fingered the leaves that you had touched... skein of God's sensous creation unfolding in a scorching sense of touch" Chapter 11
- In Jed's 1st leter to Joe, detailing the love and connection he feels
- Jed uses steryotypical love letter language and tropes to convey his feelings
- Varies from schoolboyish to almost ****** ("scorching sense of touch")
- Letter echoes and contrasts with the love letters Joe claims Clarissa wrote him at the beginning of their relationship
- Joe explains how Clarissa believes that a love can only be perfect when it is expressed perfectly through words "her conviction that love that did not find its expression in a letter was not perfect"
- For Parry, his love is expressed perfectly through words - does that make his love perfect?
- Parry's love letters complicate the idea of perfect love and further drive apart Joe and Clarisa
Joe's Scientific Perception
- Opening used to establish his rational, scientific narrative style
- Joe reflects on dramatic events using distinct scientific lexis
- Describes how (even in midst of the action) "barely a neuronal pulse later came, other than thoughts in which fear and instant calculations of logarthmic complexity were fused"
- If he can explain it - he is stronger than it
- Used to master emotions and chance by reducing them to science
- Objective viewpoint is emphasized as he at one point refers to the incident from a 3rd person perspective, with a "buzzard' flying high above
- Predominance with sceine that comes into conflict with Jed's relgious viewpoint - a theme explored in detail within the novel
- The narrative style contrasts with the action itself
Joe's management of Jed Parry
"De Clarambault's syndrome. The name was like a fanfare, a clear trumpet sound recalling my own obsessions. There was research to follow through now...A syndrome was a framework of prediction" Chapter 14
- Joe's identification of Jed's syndrom is a turning point in the novel
- Since Joe diagnoses him - Parry is now easily dealt with (instead of being an unpredictable force)
- Joe receives power from this discovery and uses his knowledge to trap Parry within the scientific confines of a "syndrome"
- At the same time - he shows a larger self-awareness as a narrator
- Realising he has become obsessed with him, as Jed has with himself
- Sense of bias is introduced
Jed's Love for Joe
- Joe reflects on what realizing Parry's syndrome means for him
- Hopes to use Parry's love as a reverse guide to bring Clarissa back to him
- Using a definition, by opposition approach
- Joe tried to not understand what love really is, but by looking at everything Jed's love is not
- John Logan's fall from the sky, causes Joe and Clarissa to fall from the innocence of their love
- A necessary step for them to truly understanding it
- By contrasting their pure, real love to Parry's nightmarish, insane love
- Their love grows stronger and more powerful, ultimatey surving
Clarissa's Love for Joe - Her Letter
Chapter 23 - "I always thought our love was the kind that was meant to go on. Perhaps it will. I just don't know"
- One of few instances we get to see Clarissa's unfiltered voice, seeing her express the same sentiment as Joe
- Whilst she previously believed their love was "superior" - she's no longer sure
- Like the reader, C is both skeptical of both the enduring power of love and objective truth of knowledge
- Her diction shapes this though
- With her longest sentance describing what they're love used to be (an enduring stream of relative hapiness)
- She breaks that sentance of and finishes her letter with two very short sentances (one isn't even a proper sentance)
- As an english professor - she has the abilit to express her intentions through writing
- Uses her ability to manipulate wording to imply, that like her sentances, their relationship has ended too early - it has become stunted
Joe's Retrospective Viewpoint
- Joe manipulates events as he has a retrospective advantage
- Told as if they were real time, but he allows them to be extended and halted
- Purpose to provide extra detail
- Gives an omniscient view over the story
- Idea of Joe's God-complex
- Needs control over the narratives shape
- Builds up the significance of what is about to happen
- Sense he may bias the events of unravelling whose is the true perspective
- As a centre of consciousness, Joe's narration is constantly questioned
- During the one of the most climatic events in the novel - the Resteraunt scene in chapter 19
- One again we have the symbolism of distotion, this time through water, when Joe tells us "I seemed to be remembering an underwater event"
- He appears to be suggesting his memory may have changed reality into something else.
- Certainly seems to be the case, when he tells us his sorbet is "lime" flavoured and then tells the police it was "apple"
- This creates a sense of suprise when his views and scientific perception is vindicated in Appendix 1
Post modern Novels - Unreliable Narrators
- Use the idea of an unreliable narrator
- To unsettle the reader - not allow them to just be absorbed in the action
- Such as red herrings placed in the text to make us suspicious e.g. when he erases Jed's messages in the answer machine
- Remind the reader it is fiction
- Reader is constantly drawn to query whether we should trust his view
- In the opening - sense that Joe's not telling the whoel truth - but elaborating on it
- "Knowing what I know now, its odd to evoke the figure of Jed Parry"
- Evoking characters is typical of authors, it is pointed out to us that Joe's taking on an authorial voice
- Uses metanarrative techniques such as "what idiocy to be racing into this story and it's labyrinths"
- Not only Joe who is racing into the novel - but McEwan and the reader
Joe's Distorted View
- Joe is a storyteller - he's part of the fiction so he may distort the events of the novel in his favour
- This is particularly obvious in Chapter 4, when he speaks of the Hubble Telescope
- The lens of the telescope could be corrected by science "The mistake was put right, the twelve-billion year old pictures came true and sharp"
- Symbolises how science can correct our views
- But reality can be distorted by the 'lens' of science
- In other words, Joe's view distorts the balloon incident and the subsequent stalking by Jed
- McEwan allows us to see the aftermath of the balloon accident through the perspective of each character's own 'lens'
- The conflcit in the novel stems from being in different 'mental universes'
Jean Logan's Perspective
- Joe's seeming unreliability is paralled by Jean Logan's actual unreliability in the story she creates about her husband's affair in chapter 13.
- She constructs her narrative as McEwan constructs his - are both views distorted?
- She invents it from seemingly insignifcant 'clues' such as the "small silk scarf" which smells of rose water
- These are in fact signficant as they parallel Joe's insignificant evidence such as the symbol of Parry "White trainers, with red laces"
- She interprets the signs similarly and doesn't listen to others points of view "She didn't hear me"
- The scene acts as a warning to Joe - but he is ignorant and can't see past his own viewpoint
- Ironically adding it was "a theory, a narrative that only grief, the dementia of pain could devise"
- Warning to readers that we can all misinterpret events - here the reader is being cautioned again to not trust what we are told