Chapter 17 Enduring Love

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Chapter 17 describes the final breakdown of Joe and Clarissa’s relationship and marks the point in the narrative in which Joe’s isolation from those around him seems complete. McEwan contradicts ensuing events by first placing Joe and Clarissa into an intimate late-night setting, implying that there will be a reconciliation between the two; ‘we were lying face to face in bed, as if nothing was wrong’. The language used here by Joe is also misleading-creating rich imagery and an atmosphere of emotion normally seen from Clarissa, ‘lying in the green field of her stare’-lexis reminiscent of the picnic before the ballooning accident and evoking a pre-lapserian image of the connection the two shared before the arrival of Jed as a Biblical, snake-like intruder to their bliss. This linguistic shift hints at a reunion, although it is also dismantled by Joe’s rationalism ‘synaesthesia... due to disorientation’, as their relationship has been. McEwan uses the division between the two to comment on the qualities of love ‘-we had lost the trick of love’ as he constructs Joe to rationalise Love as a state which can be entered and left rather than the emotion Clarissa sees it as. ‘Lost the trick’ makes Love seem to be a scientific sate, which, in the way of an experiment, can be cultivated and controlled by man with the correct conditions and expertise. Chapter 17 isolates Joe from Clarissa and the reader through his clear feelings of dissociation ‘my voice rang dull and flat in my skull’ seeming to adhere partially to the form of psychological thriller as the reader questions the Joe’s sanity and the validity of Jed’s existence- the lexis ‘rang’ seems to be a prolepsis of the telephone calls Joe receives from Jed as McEwan portrays the extent to which Jed is omnipresent in Joe’s thoughts and is evidently become more real than Clarissa to Joe ‘I remembered her beauty like a schoolbook fact.’ Continuing with the range of means that can be brought to the term love, Chapter...
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