Enduring Love Extract

Satisfactory Essays
In an extract from Ian McEwan’s ‘Enduring Love’ the main character, Joe, faces many conflicts emotionally. In Joe’s mind, his emotions and rational thought pull him in two different directions when all he seeks is a common answer. In order to portray Joe’s emotional distress, ‘Enduring Love’ is told through first person narration. Joe searches for logical explanations but the more he looks, the further the truth seems to be.

The day after John Logan’s death, Joe’s conscious makes the whole event ‘illumined and animated’ in his mind. He begins to relive the nightmare, trying to find the right answers. His guilty conscious accuses him of ‘kill[ing] (John Logan)’. Joe cannot deal with his new-found responsibility and tries to find what he believes to be the ‘truth’. On one hand, he wants the truth to be that he was not an accomplice in a man’s death yet on the other hand he wants to know what actually happened and who was the cause of it. However, the truth is, he will never know. He is left with questions and he who believes entirely in science, math and the nature of knowing, can’t comprehend this fact.

Joe analyzes the situation using his mathematical and scientific knowledge. He believes that ‘eight hundred pounds would have kept [them] close to the ground’ and therefore, the ‘first person’ to let go is at fault. He is looking for someone to blame and so places all the responsibility on this one soul. Yet he does not want to be this person, when he knows he very well could be. The thought of this being possible is excruciating and he obsessively tells himself that it was ‘not [him]’. He only wants the truth if the person turned out to be him. Joe tries manipulating mathematics to make ‘calculations’ regarding the balloon incident and uses his analytical mind to find answers yet he never allows his feelings to consume him. He’s always analyzing his own thoughts. He wants a selected truth not reality.

Joe’s conflict is also shown through a repetition of certain words. They show his feelings transition from self- blame to searching for the culprit. While trying to ease his mind, Joe no longer uses the word ‘I’. He can’t take his own accusations and so places the blame on the group as a whole. He repetitively uses the word ‘we’ when referring to what could have been done but was not.
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