Discuss the Narrative Voice in the Opening Section of Enduring Love

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  • Topic: Narrative, Narrator, Love
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Discuss the narrative voice in the opening two chapters of Enduring Love. Which is more important here, plot or narrative technique?

Enduring Love, by Ian McEwan was first published in 1997. It details, from the former’s point of view, the story of Joe Rose and Clarissa Mellon as they experience the effects of an obsession suffered as a result of De Clerambaults Syndrome by Jed Parry. We can draw a lot from the narrative voice in the opening two chapters, and it really does give the reader an idea of what the narration and character of Joe Rose will be like later on in the novel. This is why I firmly believe that the narrative technique in this short part of the book is more important than the plot detailed by Rose. The title, Enduring Love, suggests either love which is ideal and long-lasting or, in the other sense of the word ‘endured’, love that is suffered. I believe that the latter is the meaning of the word in this instance, as neither the love of Jed towards Joe, nor the mutual love of Joe and Clarissa (during the 24 chapters of the novel) last, although Joe and Clarissa eventually ‘were reconciled and later successfully adopted a child’- Appendix I, p.242. The novel starts with a confident statement from the self-conscious narrator, Joe Rose- ‘The beginning is simple to mark.’ (Ch.1, p.1) This is characteristic of Joe Rose and seems understandable enough, yet Rose then contradicts himself by conceding in chapter two that ‘there are always antecedent causes’, and therefore that the beginning is not so simple to mark (Ch.2, p.17). This contradiction, one of many in the book by Rose (such as when he cannot remember details accurately for a police interview), makes the reader doubt whether Rose is a reliable narrator or not. He is very self-conscious, often consciously employing story-telling techniques such as ‘holding back, delaying the information’, which Rose states he is doing due to it being a time in the story where other outcomes...
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