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At the start of the novel the narrator is represented to the reader as a man who lives in a well-ordered world - Examine the ways in which your responses to this character are shaped throughout the novel.

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Enduring Love by Ian McEwan Essay question: At the start of the novel the narrator is represented to the reader as a man who lives in a well-ordered world. Examine the ways in which your responses to this character are shaped throughout the novel. The novel Enduring Love by Ian McEwan is written mainly from the perspective of a first person narrator, Joe Rose, and this means he is in control of the narrative portrayed. McEwan has chosen to tell the narrative in this style of prose to disguise the truth and withhold information from the reader by making us view the unfolding action through the eyes of a narrator. Therefore this technique is compelling the reader to empathise with Joe, to share his emotions and views whilst letters from the viewpoint of other characters hint that his honesty and impartiality as our guide is far from certain. The plot begins with the protagonist Joe describing an incident that is the catalyst for the ensuing events in the novel. McEwan has chosen to write this chapter on the balloon with Joe using hindsight to express his regret because it allows the "catastrophe" to seem more enigmatic and hopeless. ...read more.


Joe also digresses onto subjects such as the origins of man in his story and this shows the reader that he is well educated and intelligent and encourages us to trust him. Therefore when he attempts to exonerate himself from any of the blame by saying he did not let go first, "I cannot accept it was me", we are not suspicious that he may be incorrect. The second chapter helps to show how reliant and utterly devoted he is to science when he refers to God as "some sort of impossible cartoon character" and also refuses to pray when asked by Jed Parry. Although not attempting to be offensive this can be interpreted a sign that he is single minded and somewhat blinkered in his attitude to life. McEwan has chosen to include these scenes to make the reader question the reliability of Joe as the narrator and also to persuade us that Joe is not as likeable a character as first thought. The first phone call from Jed that he later describes as "my first big mistake" reveals that he is somewhat overprotective of Clarissa and also that he is secretive. ...read more.


This event is the effect of the collapse of Joe's well-ordered world although we later learn through the appendixes their relationship does eventually endure. McEwan as we near the end of the novel has gradually encouraged us to dislike Joe and question him even if he is eventually vindicated. This unease is subtly and gradually created throughout the novel but the construct of oppositions is the main method the author has chosen. The placing of main characters with contrasting ideologies such as the religious Jed or the Romantic Clarissa next to each blurs which view is correct. As the novel progresses letters from other character's perspective make us view the description of previous events with cynicism. As all characters especially Joe are utterly consumed by their own views and unwilling to countenance those of others we begin to dislike his narrow-minded views. McEwan shapes the reader's responses and emotions to Joe with great skill. He gradually transforms our empathy and trust for him into dislike and suspicion through the actions and thoughts of Joe. The convictions of the other characters beliefs and his inability to accept that the other viewpoints may hold a semblance of truth makes us doubt his reliability and truthfulness as a narrator and character. Sanjay Odedra ...read more.

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