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What is the effect of the two appendices on your appreciation and understanding of the novel?

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Introduction

What is the effect of the two appendices on your appreciation and understanding of the novel? The two appendices in the novel act as a way for McEwan to draw the novel to a close and tie up loose ends. He uses them to reveal details about Parry's background and his condition, and leave Joe and Clarissa's story with a happier ending than we are left with at the novel's close. The first Appendix offers an alternative, unbiased view of the situation; it is unemotional and factual, in contrast to Joe's personal narrative. The second Appendix, however, serves as evidence that the ending to Joe and Clarissa's story will only remain happy so long as Parry is locked up - after nearly three years in a mental institution, he is still very much in love and obsessed with Joe. ...read more.

Middle

We learn more about Parry's childhood isolation, which may have made him prone to such an illness. It also explains some of Parry's protesting to Joe throughout the book: "It was you. You started this, you made this happen..." We are told that de Cl�rambault's patients are convinced that the person they love began the affair and cannot be persuaded that their feelings actually come from mental illness. This explains Parry's anger towards Joe: he honestly believes that Joe has set everything up. The report is convincing, giving a detailed history of de Cl�rambault's syndrome before using Parry's obsession with Joe as a case history. Since the book's first publication in 1997 it has been well documented that even psychiatrists have been fooled by McEwan's bogus case report, believing that the novel was indeed based on a published report. ...read more.

Conclusion

His ecstatic writing makes it clear that Jed is still deeply in love with Joe: "I live for you. I love you." The extent of Parry's delusion is startling. He still mentions signs from Joe and is still convinced that Joe returns his love, even though he has been locked in a mental institution for a number of years. McEwan gives Parry the last word, indicating that the threat to Joe and Clarissa and their relationship is still very much present. The appendices together serve as a comprehensive close to the novel, filling in gaps and tying up loose ends. The contrasting formats used actually make the material more believable. The case study is an adroit way of including all relevant information without being too obvious about tits actual purpose, and the second Appendix is very effective as an ending to the novel, leaving the reader in no doubt as to the extent and duration of Jed's illness. Vicky Charles 2 ...read more.

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