How does McEwan tell the story in Chapter 12 of Enduring Love

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How does McEwan tell the story in Chapter 12?

Chapter 12 gives us immense insight into the characters, especially Joe Rose. The chapter opens with Joe reflecting on his “sense of failure”. He reflects upon the fact that he no longer finds comfort in work nor what he did before. He states that “twenty years ago, I may have hired a professional listener” – it is presumed that he is talking about a psychologist or a councilor of some sort. This provides insight to his character and shows that he feels bad enough (or doubtful enough in himself) to deem himself necessary of going to a psychologist for help. It could also be argued that this implies that he has sought this type of help before. Not only does this confirm to the reader his current state of mind, we are shown that he has a track record of mental instability. This possibly puts us off because we are led to once again question his competency as a narrator. The the fact that he has “lost faith” in such work shows us that it may not have helped him in the past, or that he has become more skeptical of it, perhaps due to his scientific nature.

Another insight into Joe’s character is given in the line “…close to doubling the speed limit”. Here, McEwan is creating a sense of distress and as an author gives the reader a glimpse into Joe’s current emotions, but also perhaps a sense of recklessness despite Joe’s scientific and rational claims. This is supported by the state of paranoia and guilt that we repeatedly see Joe in. We his state of mind primarily from the reason why he is in the car in the first place – he is going to see Jean Logan. Regardless of his feelings, this would cause a feeling of guilt in anyone. Going to see the widow of a man you watched die must feel very traumatic, let alone if you were involved or even partly responsible for the death. This is supported by Joe constantly diverting some of his attention to his rear view mirror, on the look out “for police, for Parry”. It is somewhat ludicrous to expect to see Parry on the motorway yet he is still worried, and he knows that he is illegally speeding but is too distressed to drive slower, so feels the need to watch out for the police (he is obviously still a little rational because he is still aware of consequences, but he seemingly just selfishly disregards these consequences). This idea of his irrationality is also shown later on in the chapter when he states that he “cared less by the second that I was behaving badly”. This is the beginning of Joe’s transition from rational scientist to unstable man.

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Later, McEwan divulges a little into Joe and Clarissa’s relationships, and shows the reader that cracks are beginning to emerge. Joe, speaking in first person and again trying to interpret for himself the feelings of his partner (reminiscent of Chapter 9), states that Clarissa “seemed to agree” that Parry was mad. He says himself that ‘seemed’ meant he thought she “was not quite whole-hearted”. This is evidently the beginning of a fracture in the couple’s relationship. It is also another example of Joe trying to assume he knows what Clarissa is thinking. What is more solid, however, is Clarissa’s skepticism ...

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