Chapter Nine is a turning point in the plot of Ian McEwan's Enduring Love. In the former chapters, Joe and Clarissa witness a ballooning accident in which a man dies. This event is an emotional shock for both of them. On that day, they meet Jed Parry, a Christian fanatic. The same night, he phones Joe saying “I love you”, but Joe, too scared of Parry and of worrying Clarissa hangs up and says that it is a wrong number (p. 37). Few days after, Joe confesses about it to Clarissa, adding that Parry had been following him at the library, but she reproaches him not telling her before and does not seem to believe in the stalking, and thinks he imagined the whole thing. Then, the real harassment starts : Parry waits for Joe at the front door, stays there all afternoon and fills Joe's answering machine with 29 messages of “love” (p. 78). When Clarissa comes home, Parry is gone and that is where Chapter Nine begins : she has had a very bad day and just wants to have a bath whereas Joe wants to share what he went through with Parry. What strikes us most is that in this chapter there is a narrative shift from a first person narrative (Joe's point of view) to a third person narrative (Clarissa's point of view). Why did Ian McEwan choose to change the narrative style in this chapter ? Moreover we witness here an argument between Clarissa and Joe and discover that they have very different viewpoints. Why does Clarissa doubt of Joe's tale ? What is Parry's influence on the couple ? What is the real impact of this chapter on the reader ? For this chapter 9, Ian McEwan chooses an omniscient narrator, following both Joe's and Clarissa's thoughts. All from the beginning we have been with Joe, we have heard all his thoughts, as if we were taking his place in the story. If Ian McEwan switches from a first person narrative to a third person narrative, it is to create a distance with Joe. By seeing Clarissa's feelings, we have another point of view, which can maybe be more accurate. Indeed, that is the first time we go through Clarissa's head and we have a completely different view of the situation and in particularly of Joe himself. He appears here as a very selfish man, assaulting her as soon as she puts a foot into the house. He wants her to listen to him but does not want the inverse and gets angry when she does not want to listen to him : « Your only concern is I'm not massaging your damned feet after your hard day » (p.86, l.21). Clarissa has had indeed an accumulation of bad moments that day « At her back a bad day » (p.79, l.5), the whole first paragraph is filled with situations she had to deal with all day long : the tears of the student she supervised, the Senate committee, a seminar, the complains of her colleague at lunch... (p.79) and she feels harassed by Joe as soon as she comes into the flat « He's coming towards her, talking before she's even through the door. Without a kiss or any form of greeting... » (p.80, l.30). Everyone knows that it is easier for an argument to explode when people are tired and 2/5
when they have had a really bad day before. Clarissa has the feeling she is sick « cold or 'flu » (p.80, l.17) and she has a pain in the back. All she wants is to relax but Joe denies her the right to do it « All Clarissa wants to say is, Where's my kiss? Hug me! Take care of me! But Joe is pressing on like a man who has seen no other human for a year » (p.81, l.6-7). She tries to avoid the conversation by taking a bath, but Joe follows her, and what she wanted to be quiet moment for herself turns out to be a very boring time where she has to face a « conversationally deaf and blind » (p.81, l.9) Joe, a « non-stop talking ape » (p.81, l.26). « All she wants now, if he is not going to take care of her, is to be alone » (p.81, l.31) and indeed that what is going to happen at the end of the chapter. This is bound to happen, Joe is infuriating, and like every human, Clarissa cannot resist reproaching it to him and that is...
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