The attempts of the narrator to distance himself from the events are clearly evident in the second paragraph, where he envisions the actions of himself and the other characters from the perspective of a buzzard 'three hundred feet up'. This same intention was also exercised in the first paragraph through the means of applying excessive attention to minor detail, such as 'the cool neck and the black foil touched my palm'. Although the perspective in the second paragraph soon reverts back to the monological narrator, the writer evokes the buzzard as a distancing strategy when Jed Parry is mentioned, perhaps indicating that his presence would become both significant and tragic. The writer also introduces several named characters in this paragraph, whilst pointedly avoiding the attribution of any significance to the 'farm labourers' who ran parallel with the main character. There are also several examples of regretful hindsight which hint at an enormously significant event about to occur, such as 'knowing what I know now', 'innocent of the grief this entanglement would bring', and, perhaps most blatantly, 'the encounter that would unhinge us was minutes away'. The writer also avoids specifically stating what this monumentous incident is, describing it only as a 'colossus' which 'set fabulous magnitude against the puny human distress at its base'. In doing so, McEwan succeeds in portraying what is evidently a physically dominating presence as something which holds significance not only as a result of enormous tangible dimensions, but also as a psychologically intimidating manifestation of something which dwarfs the significance of the 'puny human distress'.
The third paragraph begins by demonstrating another technique evidently being utilised by the narrator to distance himself from the 'grief this entanglement would bring'. The divulging of relevant and vital information seems to be deliberately delayed here, replaced by information regarding the way in which Clarissa reached the 'centre of the field'. The confused thoughts of the narrator at this time are evident in the way in which the writer provides longer sentences with convoluted structure and syntax: 'the aftermath, the second crop, the growth promoted by that first cut in May'. The narrator then admits that he is 'holding back, delaying the information'. He explains that this is because of his despair at the inevitability of the events which would follow those portrayed at this early stage in the novel: 'I'm lingering in the prior moment because it was a time when other outcomes were still possible'; and in this way the writer succeeds in deepening the sense of foreboding felt by the reader. The narrator seems to be scared of the unpredictability of the situation, and once again reverts to the perspective of the buzzard: 'the convergence of six figures in a flat green space has a comforting geometry from the buzzard's perspective, the knowable, limited plane of the snooker table.' He then makes reference to this perfect state of 'mathematical grace' as a reference point from which he is able to derive security and assurance - something which he evidently loses once the events in the opening of the novel fulfil their role: 'this was the last time I understood anything clearly at all'.
This idea of irreversibly setting something cataclysmic in motion is developed through forceful metaphors in the final two paragraphs which concern furnaces and violent, powerful forces of change: 'forged... in the nuclear furnace of the stars, first step along the way in the generation of multiplicity and variety of matter in the universe, including our selves and all our thoughts'. By comparing it to a furnace of cosmic proportions, McEwan emphasises the significance of what the reader learns to be a balloon by describing its disastrous ability to permanently and irrevocably alter lives. This metaphor is continued in the final, short paragraph, emphasising the terrible and irreversible effect that the balloon would have on each of the characters involved: 'we were running towards a catastrophe, which itself was a kind of furnace in whose heat identities and fates would buckle into new shapes.' The paragraphs gradually shorten in the extract, perhaps mirroring the narrator's own train of thought and his attempts to concisely express his concerns and description of events. The significance of this final paragraph's brevity lies in the fact that the narrator has finally managed to describe what is taking place - that a child was in the basket of the balloon with a man 'in need of help' clinging onto the rope which anchors the balloon to the ground. The tensile energy of the balloon and the inevitability of its departure are perhaps a metaphor in itself for the barely restrained despair maintained by the narrator throughout the opening of the novel - the fact that something cataclysmic has been set in motion that cannot be stopped.