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The Effectiveness of Chapter One as an Opening to "Enduring Love".

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The Effectiveness of Chapter One as an Opening to "Enduring Love" The opening chapter to Ian McEwan's "Enduring Love" is possibly one of the most remarkable opening chapters to date. McEwan's brilliant use of language, structure, themes, realistic characters and plot combine to keep the reader in suspense and in a state of anxiety. Reading the first sentence immediately instils a sense of anxiety; "The beginning is simple to mark." This subconsciously tells the reader that if the beginning is simple, the rest must be complicated, confusing, anything but simple. The whole chapter is filled with words that point towards darker, more sinister events. They "heard the man's shout", "saw the danger" and in particular "What idiocy, to be racing into this story and its labyrinths, sprinting away from our own happiness" This sentence confirms the suspicions that "The beginning is simple to mark" should of given. The sentence tells us that whatever he, Joe, is running towards, is more than just the obvious, it is a maze of possibilities, a "labyrinth" of stories, ending in Joe and Clarissa becoming unhappy. ...read more.


Joe imagines looking at the scene through a buzzard's eye; " I see us three hundred feet up, through the eyes of a buzzard we had watched earlier, soaring circling and dipping" Not only does this give the reader a clearer idea of what is happening, the six men running towards the centre of a field, but it also is a personification of the scene in Joe's mind, threatening, distant, yet demanding attention. It could be that the buzzard is symbolic, representing the stalker that comes into the novel later on. McEwan gives the reader a clear image of the characters without having to directly describe them to us. The name "Clarissa" and the fact they are drinking "1987 Daumas Gassac" immediately points towards middle class characters. Later in the chapter, we are told, "apart from the flat and our car, it was the most expensive single item I had ever bought." This item he is referring to is actually a book Joe has bought for Clarissa. ...read more.


The only other theme aside from death in chapter one is love. This is shown in the picnic and the discussion about love letters. Clarissa's opinion of love letters is "that love that did not find its expression in a letter was not perfect". This is of little interest until the second reading of the book, where it is symbolic of later happenings, as further on in the book, Jed sends passionate love letters to Joe. At this point, the only indication of this is the way Joe describes him and Jed as "rushing towards each other, like lovers." The imagery used is very visual and varied, adding to the sense of foreboding and violence. Some such examples would be "fatal lack of co-operation", "puny human distress", "it were as though an express train were traversing the treetops, hurtling towards us", "a mighty fist socked the balloon". The chapter closes with a fine example where "ruthless gravity" takes the life of John Logan, "a stiff little black stick". In conclusion, this first chapter is a worthy example of the start of a novel full of suspense, menace and tragedy. ...read more.

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