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How does Ian McEwan commit the reader to the rest of the novel in the first chapter?

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By LuCy AtweLL Ms. Buggins How does Ian McEwan commit the reader to the rest of the novel in the first chapter? Ian McEwan said himself, "The first impressions of a book, are the most crucial", I strongly agree with his statement. The first chapter/introduction is the decider; it allows the reader to initially decide if this book is for them. Therefore it has to be the most effective to lure the reader in. There are many different types of novel openings; openings with a dramatic scene, character introduction, diary form, starting with the ending of the story, spoken in past, present or future tense and many more. Ian McEwan has used character introduction and starting the novel with a dramatic event in Enduring Love. He begins the novel with a quick pace, so therefore it builds suspense for the reader immediately. He makes the pace quick or slow by sentence structure, (the smaller the sentence structure the faster the pace). The novel opening is written in past tense and in third person narrative. The reader discovers that the narrator is also a character called Joe. His tone is regretful and concise. This tells the reader that the effect of an event has changed or marked his life somehow. "This is the last time I understood anything at all". This straight away starts to trigger off questions in the readers mind and increases curiosity. ...read more.


His language is regretful and scientific. "I'm lingering in the prior moment because it was the time when other outcomes were still possible..." and "knowing what I know now..." We know Joe is technical, scientific and a deep thinker by his language and use of description, "The initial conditions, the force and the direction of the force, define all the consequent pathways, all the angles of collision and return..." making his character more complex so the reader becomes more intrigued in him. He describes the event with facts and rules extending this opinion, "I linger on our dispositions, the relative distances and the compass point". McEwan still doesn't refer back to the balloon scene; instead he discusses the events before the picnic with Clarissa, "For this was a reunion after a separation of six weeks". He talks about Clarissa's beauty and this emphasizes his love for her. He uses imagery and emotive language to describe her, which is the opposite of how he describes everything else. He uses an oxymoron, "...world's most complicated simpleton". This shows how well Clarissa knows Joe. Joe also describes and analyses Clarissa's passion for John Keats, a romantic poet, "Its easy to imagine him writing a letter he never intended to send". He also uses facts and his opinions to describe all about him, showing his good knowledge of her passion. He lists lots of facts about John Keats, but says, "I knew little about Keats or his poetry", this shows that he has no real shared interest in her passion and that he's not easily satisfied, as he knows quite alot. ...read more.


He's uncomfortable with the idea of no organisation and control in a situation. McEwan finished the first chapter with a cliffhanger. After all his withholding information and delaying the story, he finally tells the reader the consequence of the event. Joe thinks tragedy was a product of his failure as he takes it personally and blames himself. He describes the falling of John Logan descriptively, "He fell as he had hung, a stiff little black stick". In the final sentence he refers to John Logan as "That falling man", not formally with his name. This is McEwan way of showing Joe deliberately blocks out any emotion by not naming him, by not giving him a life and a past. The language is emotive and creates sympathy for Joe. It raises further questions for the reader, like what happens next and what are the after effects of the tragedy? So, the reader continues to read on to discover these answers. McEwan's construction of layout, language and character introduction all play a major part in building this suspense and interest. They all come together perfectly to urge the reader to continue reading. Ian McEwan also said, "I want this book to be like an addictive drug for the reader" he achieved this with his fine description, creating imagery. The change of pace throughout the chapter, allows suspense to be created, and by Joe as the narrator withholding information it allows the reader to be curious, building suspense and raise questions in their mind, creating a successful opening chapter. ...read more.

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