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What is the significance of chapter 21?

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What is the significance of chapter 21? Plan - Plot development (tension, actions), then character development (two sides to Joe, Johnny's view), then themes (obsession and conflict) and links to other parts in book (structure, style and language throughout) Chapter 21 is a pivotal chapter in the novel were 'words' turn into 'actions' when Joe goes to purchase a gun for the 'hippies'. It allows for character development, an increase in pace and plot development. The chapter has a compilation of themes including drama and comedy. Style, structure and language all contribute to this, and signpost this chapter to the audience. This chapter increases the plot intensity by the introduction of the gun. Joe's actions follow closely to Jeds, as they both 'step up a level', as Jed tries to kill Joe and Joe gets a gun creating an analogy. The plot intensity is shown through the language and structure. The language contributes to create atmosphere and tension between the characters and for the reader. Pace is also extremely important in this chapter as it symbolises its significance and create tension. McEwan uses positive language such as "...and a hundred cars parked outside, baking their colours in the sun" when describing the surroundings in the cars journey. This contrast later in the chapter when Joe describes the 'hippies' house and he uses negative language and imagery symbolising imprisonment like, "padlocked", "skeletons", "entrails", "ugly", "iron ring", this is to show the increase of tension, and Joes nervousness. ...read more.


Let's go. I pulled at Johnny's sleeve". We are also presented with an objective opinion of Joe by Johnny. He states, "I'll give you some advice you might be grateful for. Don't make fun of these people", this shows Johnny is aware of Joes patronising, sarcastic nature. This is one of the first stated negative opinions of Joe, indicating his characteristics to the reader. Regardless of this warning Joe still patronises the 'hippies', "Actually, it's Sunday", showing Joe simply can't help himself. Joe also employs a comical description of the 'hippies', this could be interpreted as showing he's actually afraid of them and nervous as it is implied that 'you make fun of things your afraid of'. On the other hand, a second interpretation could be that McEwan is simply structurally adding a style of comedy to up-lift the atmosphere and relax the tension he has created and therefore decrease the pace. This tension is also present between the other characters; this is made apparent to us through Joe's narration. We are therefore being revealed the way in which Joe reacts to a situation 'out of his control', "No one knew where we were". This tension also adds to the pace of the chapter. We are also introduced to the binary oppositions of brains and brawn. ...read more.


It is identified by the incidents in the 'hippies' house. The chapter has a satirical style which enhances this theme. The name Xan itself is comical, and could represent a stereotypically comic villain name. The other descriptions of characters also have a comical element, "Steve had hooked a thumb into Xan's nostril". This theme of comedy could structurally be to contrast with the tension to create relief or to show how nervous Joe is. Each of the themes presented, the character development and the plot increase all develop the depth of the novel and therefore identify the importance of this chapter to the reader. It is a pivotal point in the novel where the tension and actions increase to create intensity. It is structurally important as it follows the restaurant scene, in which the reader's faith is restored in Joe. The style of the chapter is dramatic and satirical and has changed from the previous chapters. The language all contributes to development of tension and therefore signposting to the reader that an important incident is about to occur. This is further emphasised by the last paragraph of the chapter, "I'm at your place, sitting here with Clarissa. I'm putting her on, OK?" this is an example of how McEwan uses simple sentences to create tension. The overall increase in intensity symbolises the significance of this chapter in the novel and use of themes, and character development support this. Lucy Atwell 07/05/2007 English lit Miss. Buggins ...read more.

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