What methods does McEwan use to create reader interest in Chapter Four of Enduring Love
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McEwan uses a large variety of literary techniques to create reader interest in Chapter Four of Enduring Love, through the use of form, language and structure. At the start of this chapter, McEwan uses time expansion over seemingly unimportant aspects of Joe’s morning while writing an article on the Hubble telescope to help create reader interest. It begins as Joe describes the telescope’s history in thorough detail, from the flaws it had to begin with (“the primary mirror was ten thousandths of an inch too flat”) to its final success (“Hubble was grand in conception, but the rescue operation was technologically sublime”).
As the time passes so slowly, McEwan emphasizes Joe’s passion for science, and also shows how he immerses himself in it as an attempt to distance himself from the horrific events of the previous day. The use of long sentences here illustrate Joe’s thinking pattern and reflect how Joe is desperately trying to think deeply in science to ignore his emotions. Even so, there is evidence in the chapter that this is not enough to help him forget, such as when he tells his producer about the accident: “I couldn’t help myself.
I had to be saying it to someone”. It highlights further to the reader Joe’s character traits of wanting order and reason behind everything, which can be found in science (the Hubble telescope), which makes him detach himself from the emotions caused by the balloon incident. McEwan’s use of time expansion here contrasts with the compression at the end of Chapter Three, which leaves the reader on a cliff hanger as Jed calls Joe, telling him: “’I love you’” compelling the reader to read onwards in order to find out more about him.
So the time expansion at the start of Chapter Four teases the reader, who wants to know more about Jed and is instead being told information which they believe is irrelevant. Also while Joe is creating his article on the Hubble telescope, the reader questions the reliability of Joe’s narrative. As his job, he takes other people’s work and research then edits and manipulates them down into a narrative article for average people to read. He also uses words like “read”, “typed” and “corrected” when describing the creation of his piece.
This brings to the reader’s mind whether the information being given by Joe is actually true, or if he changing it to make it more reader-friendly, similarly to how he was altering the Hubble telescope’s information. As he “corrected” the article, further unreliability is added, because if he re-assesses his own work to add a particular effect to the reader of the Hubble telescope, he could do the same with his narrative in Enduring Love, to make the reader side with his point of view.
There are also complex sentence structures used, and often they feature sub-clauses of retrospection, which shows his analytical nature, and make it even less reliable as he could have morphed the information while analysing it. In contrast to this, Joe’s narrative is made to seem more reliable later in the chapter where he finds hard to express his emotions in words: “I possessed a thought, a feeling, a sensation and I was looking for its word”. This could imply that what’s in Joe’s head is the closest thing to “truth”, making the reader trust Joe.
There is a central conflict throughout this chapter between scientific facts and human emotions. There is a juxtaposition of the Hubble telescope and the Titanic, where in response to their scientific failures there are two opposing reactions “glee and gloating” and hysteria. This shows how Joe believes emotions hinder common reasoning, whether good or bad. This is ironic, considering that later in the chapter, Joe’s reasoning as to Jed following him is very irrational, and is only fuelled by his paranoia.
Reader interest is created through the semantic field of contamination throughout the chapter. Words like “mutated virus”, “filth”, “tainted”, “pollution”, “unclean” and the lexis word “Meard Street” (phonetic spelling of the French swear word “merde”) all evoke a sense of disgust and filthiness in the reader. The idea of spreading disease symbolises how Jed Parry is slowly taking over and destroying Joe’s life. Jed’s contamination of Joe’s mind is shown through Joe’s paranoia and “fear” throughout the chapter.
The origin of his own fear troubles Joe as it seems to be instinctive, as opposed to his reasoned stance on life (as shown in the first few chapters), which is provocative to a scientist dedicated to rational thought. It says, “Was I so obtuse, not to know fear from the start? Wasn’t it an elemental emotion, along with disgust, surprise, anger and elation, in Ekman’s celebrated cross-cultural study? … I was afraid of fear, because I did not know yet the cause. ” This highlights once again Joe’s analytical nature, always needing an explanation as to why things occur and not just accepting his fear.
It also emphasizes how Parry is poisoning his mind with self-doubt, shown by Joe’s use of many interrogatives and questions. On top of this, McEwan uses proliferation of ‘I’ to demonstrate Joe becoming increasingly self absorbed and introspective, which hints as to why there becomes a problem in his marriage. It also brings across the form of the chapter – a psychological thriller. McEwan’s purpose of using this psychological thriller form is to create tension in the reader and it compels them to read on.
It is also emphasizes how big a threat Joe thinks Jed is. Words such as, “suddenly”, “foreboding”, “afraid” and “apprehension” all enforce this form into the chapter. As Joe begins to believe he is being stalked by Jed in the library, McEwan uses short, simple sentences to recreate Joe’s thought process. It also generates a sense of confusion, chaos and anxiety in the reader, showing the panic Joe feels and creating reader interest due to the quickening pace it creates. It says: “Who was the person who just left? Why so suddenly?
I stood up. It was apprehension then. All day long I had been in this state. ” Once again there is a large use of interrogatives, emphasizing his self doubt and his own confusion, which makes the reader question the reliability of Joe’s narrative and increases the sense of panic and builds tension. This quotation also shows how paranoid has Joe become, since the simple action of somebody leaving the library causes his mind to conjure all sorts of unjustifiable and irrational conclusions, which makes the reader question Joe’s sanity.
It emphasizes Joe’s character changing due to Jed, as in the first few chapters, the readers have become used to knowing Joe as being very reasonable, even straight after the trauma of the death of Logan. So this creates further reader interest as they want to find out where Joe ends up after this abrupt character change. On top of this, the reader is left confused over Joe’s actions, because Jed is not named as the person Joe believes is following him, so the reader is made to assume.
This creates a sense of anxiety in the reader too because they, like Joe, do not know what the cause of his fear. The form of a psychological thriller and Joe’s character change is carried on to the end of the chapter where after Joe chases Parry onto the street, and then picks up a jam jar of marigolds in hope “it might bring me luck, or rather, protection”. This is extremely contradictory of his usually reasonable character, as superstition cannot be backed up by fact, which he normally does.
This paradox is Joe’s character shows that almost against his reason, Joe finds that in moments of stress and anxiety, his emotions undermine certainty and his mind runs along irrational lines of superstitious thoughts. Joe even begins to think about religion too, as he says, “such hopeful acts of propitiation, fending off mad wild unpredictable forces, whole religions were founded. ” This reference to religion relates back to Jed, and shows that Jed has been running through his mind the whole day.
It also raises the question in the reader that it might be Joe that is obsessed with Jed instead, if he is constantly thinking about him. The way this chapter ends without a resolution or confirmation of Joe’s paranoia means that the reader is left on a cliff-hanger, which compels them to read on in hope of finding out who was following Joe, or even if anyone even was. In conclusion, McEwan uses numerous techniques in order to create reader interest, through language, form and structure. These techniques ensure that the reader is kept keen and eager to find out more about Joe’s suspicion of Jed.