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At the start of the novel the narrator is presented to the reader as a man who lives in a well ordered world. Examine the way in which your responses to the character are shaped up to and including chapter 15.

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Introduction

At the start of the novel the narrator is presented to the reader as a man who lives in a well ordered world. Examine the way in which your responses to the character are shaped up to and including chapter 15. At the beginning of the novel, the author goes to great lengths to show the narrator as an intellectual, upper-middle-class and logical person. During the first chapter, we are exposed to the fact that Joe clearly enjoys the finer things in life. For example, the food he buys for the picnic and the present he buys for his lover, Clarissa. These items are obviously not things a working class person would buy. The fact that Joe leads this kind of lifestyle makes his downward spiral later in the novel all the more dramatic. We are also given our first glimpse into how Joe's mind works. At the airport, McEwan presents Joe as very analytical. This is a reflection of the work he does. ...read more.

Middle

Jed Parry's obsession with Joe brings out an interesting twist in how Joe behaves. This is most clearly demonstrated in chapter 4. During this chapter, the reader gets a sense of paranoia from Joe. This is a far cry from his earlier display of calm, cold, calculated rationalisation. The reader would not expect Joe to jump to the conclusion that Parry is following him without reasonable proof. Chapter 4 contains another moment that highlights the fractures in Joe's personality. "I couldn't help feeling as I pushed the jar closer to the railings where it might escape being kicked over again that it might bring me luck, or, rather, protection." Joe doesn't seem to be the kind of person who would be superstitious as it contradicts his whole profession as a scientist. Although we begin to see a new side to Joe, some of his old characteristics are still there. His insecurity, for example, seems to grow as the novel evolves. This puts a great tension on the relationship of Joe and Clarissa and threatens their "free and intimate existence". ...read more.

Conclusion

Finally, Joe displays yet another side to himself in chapter 14. He shows himself to be very apt at dealing with young children. He is able to talk to them rather than talk at them, and he clearly doesn't patronise them or talk down to them. This development is not entirely surprising, as Joe himself displays several child-like qualities, which may give Joe the ability to relate to the children. This is also very ironic, because the main thing that seems to be missing from Joe and Clarissa's relationship is a child, but Joe does not seemed as concerned as Clarissa does. McEwan presents the downward spiral of Joe very well. The fact that a vast majority of the readers will be able to identify with Joe's type of lifestyle and thinking makes his change all the more dramatic. McEwan is trying to show how thin the line between love and obsession really is. This is very disturbing to the reader, because love is at the centre of our culture. The different sides to Joe's character are very unpredictable and unexpected. This serves to further add to the dramatic tension of the character. Jake Wharton 1 ...read more.

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