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Explore the ways in which McEwan builds tension and suspense in the first five chapters of Enduring Love.

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Hannah Greenslade 5/10/03 Explore the ways in which McEwan builds tension and suspense in the first five chapters of Enduring Love The first five chapters of Enduring Love are crucial to the setting of the story and build tension in the reader, making them want to read the rest of the novel. McEwan uses Joe's trains of thought and narrative to build up suspense and tension. We don't just read the story as it happened but rather learn about the events bit by bit as Joe retells the accident. The whole story is told not just for the reader but for himself as well so it is with hindsight that Joe tells the story, filling in the gaps for himself and giving clues to the reader. There are many examples of these "thriller" style clues, particularly in the first two chapters. " whose car.....with its door, or doors wide open" This comment would clearly not be made unless it had some reference to the story to come, as it seems to be explored in the kind of detail which would only be necessary with retrospective knowledge. ...read more.


He also indirectly addresses the reader in chapter 3; ""This is just the beginning", I promised, "stick around"" Although this is said to Clarissa, it also gives a hint to the reader that there is a lot more of the story to come, creating suspense. The reader can sense Joe's tension as he retells the story by the vocabulary he uses. He uses short, simple sentences like "the beginning is simple to mark" as if he is trying to sort his head out and only say what he knows is definitely true. He does this again at the beginning of chapter two, "Best to slow down", as if he's going too fast for himself. He uses a similar phrase to the first; "I've already marked my beginning", as if to remind himself what he has already said. This seems to be more for his own benefit than for the reader's, and gives us a good idea about how tense he is feeling. ...read more.


Joe seems quite irrational during the scene in the library, (or maybe too rational, p33, "you're like a child") when he follows someone out who may be wearing trainers similar to Parry's; "a flash of white shoe and something red" Although there are signs from early on that Parry is a slightly disturbing character, e.g. after the accident when Jed says he has been talking to Clarissa, "She had said nothing to him about me" the reader doesn't know whether Joe is right to be suspicious at this point, and there is a need to know more about these characters and their relationship. This creates more suspense and tension for the reader. By looking at these points I would conclude that one of McEwan's main purposes and successes when writing these chapters was to build up suspense and tension as by the end of this section the reader is completely absorbed by the story and the many unsolved issues raised at the beginning of the novel. ...read more.

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