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Enduring Love: How satisfying are the three appendices as conclusions?

Uploaded by HopeWhitmore on Mar 02, 2002

McEwan began ‘Enduring Love’ by telling us ‘The beginning is simple to mark’. It seems that although it is ‘simple’ to mark the beginning of a novel, finding the end is much harder. This is because McEwan believes there is no such thing as an ending.

A conventional book, or play, would have three parts, a beginning, a middle and an end, but ‘Enduring Love’ Is not a conventional book and McEwan is not a conventional writer. McEwan wants us to believe in a future for his characters after the story is over. To create the illusion that his characters do exist out of the novel McEwan wrote three endings to ‘Enduring Love’, giving evidence of their continued existence.

The first ending is the most conventional of the three. In this chapter Joe picks up Clarissa and takes her to meet Jean Logan to explain the truth about John Logan’s motives in hanging onto the balloon ropes. It is a transitory chapter, where things are explained and loose ends are tied up.

When Joe meets Clarissa again, after the letter, and the separation, there is inevitably tension, but the tension itself is satisfying, because the reader is expecting tension. It is as if, once there has been that primary awkwardness, the ‘fumbled squeeze of hands’ and the statement made ‘too cheerfully’, Joe and Clarissa will be able to move on. It is almost as if the tension is serving a cathartic purpose.

Later on in the chapter there are hints of reconciliation between Joe and Clarissa ‘I caught Clarissa’s eye and we exchanged a half smile as if we were pitching our own requests for mutual forgiveness’. This would not have been possible if Joe and Clarissa had not endured the tension.

Joe and Clarissa are so nearly reunited in this purifying chapter. Chapter twenty four is also purifying in that the presences which haunt the novel are almost forgotten. Parry is only referred to as something from the past, which is no longer threatening ‘this along with a bloodstain on the carpet, was Parry’s legacy’. Throughout the novel, Joe has had an obsession with Parry and in this chapter, that obsession is resolved.

Other obsessions which have lingered throughout the book are also cured. Joe, in explaining the science of the river to the children, comes to terms with his work as a science journalist rather than a scientist and ceases to view...

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Uploaded by:   HopeWhitmore

Date:   03/02/2002

Category:   Literature

Length:   7 pages (1,482 words)

Views:   1794

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