Although the actual event of the balloon accident is only one chapter, the aftermath of the episode - mainly John Logan's demise - is seen to haunt the remaining characters throughout the novel, and act as a catalyst for the main story plot line: "Worst of all, the memory of the balloon accident is back with her..." The cat and mouse chase between Joe and Jed, and investigations that are to follow dominates all areas of the plot, and subsequently Joe and Clarissa's relationship, absorbing the reader in its intricacies and driving the reader to investigate the possible eventualities, and truth in the novel's conclusion.
Joe and Jed's relationship can however appear frustrating rather than compelling at times. During the duration of the novel, Joe eventually acknowledges that Jed has a mental illness, but offers no help or discussion with Jed about this, and instead chooses to irrationally unpick and analyse Jed: "Studying Parry with reference to a syndrome I could tolerate, even relish..." This leaves the reader with a bitter animosity towards the characters, which in turn prevents them from connecting with either Joe or Jed, despite them acting as their own protagonists in the story/letter they share with us. Their repetitive and continuously inconclusive relationship can also appear predictable, eventually making the reader lose interest in their 'game'. Similarly, the habitual science versus religion stereotypes juxtapose one another so the reader is forced to predict that Joe and Jed will be forever incompatible, thus making them lust for a resolution or conclusion quicker.
On the contrary, when Jed says "you love me Joe..." McEwan invites us to explore themes of love and obsession; what makes love different to infatuation? The bizarre , homo-erotic intimacy between the two characters is obscure, but rarely addressed in novels, which provokes curiosity and apprehension in the reader. Their relationship is completely unanticipated by the reader: "What did he mean when he said he felt it too?" And despite being shown the strength of Clarissa and Joe's relationship, we are more anxious to read on about the evolution of their supposed 'love affair', and how Clarissa and Joe's relation will endure through the difficult times ahead: "Knowing what I know now..."
As the story line develops, similarities between Joe and Jed begin to form. In the chapter where we read from Clarissa's perception, she says Joe has a "wild look about him" In a previous chapter, Joe says about Jed "he was watching my face with a kind of hunger." Both quotes are related to vivid animal descriptions. Whilst the reader is aware of Jed's apparent mental instability, they begin to become aware that the middle class, science genius they trusted up until this point, is flawed. This makes them question the reliability of the narration from Joe, thus threatening the reputation of the whole novel as it suggests that Joe may be equally as insane as Jed. These similarities also provoke the advancement that Joe may be partially responsible for Jed's obsession after all; he may have been conveying signals on an unconscious level to Jed. These are all potential ideas that the readers are willing to explore.
The underlying combative and psychotic natural of Joe and Jed's love story is compelling as readers realise the story will inevitably have a mournful ending which either one of the characters meeting their demise, arousing a climatic tension throughout the novel. However, through their story line are many interesting and intricate sub-plots which prove to compel the reader and serve to contest the belief that Joe and Jed's relationship is the most compelling aspect of Enduring Love.