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How does McEwan Present Ideas about Memory and Recall in "Enduring Love"

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Introduction

How does McEwan Present Ideas about Memory and Recall in "Enduring Love" In 'Enduring Love" McEwan has created a storyline that refers to the 1st person narrator's own perception of his own mind and memory. Because of this we do not know whether to trust Joe or not as he is extremely biased in his own opinion. At the very beginning of the novel we, as the reader, feel extremely safe being "in Joe's hands" because we see the very scientific, rational mind; however as we go on through the story we see the loss of rationality and we are given hints not to trust Joe as much as we did; "His writing's rather like yours" and "Mr Tapp went to the toilet, not his daughter". Within the opening chapter we see as a very clear memory from Joe of the balloon accident. Within this chapter we see the very rational side of Joe where we see the view of the balloon accident from a "buzzards" point of view so that it looks like the people who are within the balloon accident are on a snooker table coming from all direction. Joe is able to stop time here and point out where absolutely everyone is in relation to himself and the actual balloon. ...read more.

Middle

At the end of Chapter 18 we see a memory of Clarissa's last birthday from Joe's perspective. This is a very detailed description of her last birthday, this gives the impression that Joe can remember very certain facts when they concern him directly and if it is something he really wants to remember, such as a happy day with his girlfriend. In Chapter 19 Joe meets up with Clarissa and Jocelyn, her godparent, for her birthday meal. In this chapter Joe gives his present to Clarissa after listening to Jocelyn's story of how DNA was discovered. In the first paragraph he is very factual about his surroundings but in the second paragraph Joe gives us his memory of what happened, which is not like the rest of the novel where he has been there describing events as they happen, this time he is taking a step back from the story and describing them as they had already happened. This is very different form the rest of the story; this could be seen as a change in style for Joe, as though he is becoming more and more irrational. In this second chapter he describes the food as "red" and tells us how the waiter brought out "the fat tongues of roasted peppers", this refers back heavily to earlier on in the chapter where Clarissa and Joe kissed; "these days our tongues never touched, but this time they did". ...read more.

Conclusion

And to complete the reader's disbelief in Joe's own memory and how he is recalling the story is the fact that the sorbets were brought to the table during the shooting and were vanilla instead of Joe's belief of "apple. If the guy says its anything else then we're talking about two different waiters" - however earlier on in chapter 19 Joe tells us that his sorbet was lime flavoured not apple and therefore he is contradicting himself. This is enough for the reader to completely lose faith in Joe's narration throughout the novel and we are left in a state of not knowing what to believe as the truth and what not to anymore. Throughout the novel McEwan has created an element of distrust between the reader and the narrator, Joe, by creating ideas that make the reader reads into without even thinking about. McEwan has used memory and recall very subtlely so that the reader doesn't read much into it at that point, but has used it enough to make the reader distrust Joe. McEwan has defiantly used the idea of memory and recall and how they can be corrupted very easily on what the individual actually wants to believe and what is actually true very well and has used it to his own advantage to create the atmosphere within the novel. ...read more.

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