Hooking the Reader in Ian McEwan's Enduring Love Essay

Hooking the Reader in Ian McEwan's Enduring Love Essay

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"The beginning is simple to mark". This is the opening sentence of Ian McEwan's novel "Enduring Love", and in this first sentence, the reader is unwittingly drawn into the novel. An introduction like this poses the question, the beginning of what? Gaining the readers curiosity and forcing them to read on. The very word "beginning" allows us an insight into the importance of this event, for the narrator must have analysed it many a time in order to find the moment in which it all began, and so it is obviously significant period of his life. And surely if the beginning is "simple", what is to come must be complex. This and the writers delaying tactics, attention to precise detail and a red herring hook the reader and draw them well and truly into the novel.
The reader joins "Joe", the narrator, as he and his lover "Clarissa" are enjoying a romantic picnic in the countryside. Bathed in sunlight under a turkey oak, "partly protected from a strong gusty wind", the relationship between the two is yet to be divulged, but McEwan's use of the phrase "partly protected", seems to imply that these two people have been protected from such horrors until this moment. Before the cry is heard and the race into the tale begins, a strong picture is painted; the reader can almost taste the air, and feel the "cool neck" of the 1987 Daumas Gassac as they themselves clutch the corkscrew. This attention to detail is a technique McEwan uses frequently throughout this chapter, to enforce just how important this day was to Joe, how the memory of this day has been replayed over and over in his mind until he is able to reel off the minutiae almost mechanically. The reader is therefore drawn into the story with the morbid curiosity of what is to happ...


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...the story commences from before they take place. This method causes the readers to feel impatient, almost wanting to skip ahead to see what happens, but too engrossed in the story, anxious for, yet dreading the moment in which the shout is heard. Phrases such as "other outcomes were still possible" again add to the feeling of impending doom; other outcomes were possible, but they did not take place, this collision of men all intent on helping the distressed was futile.
It is in these ways that McEwan succeeds in creating suspense that "demands a kind of physical courage from the reader to continue reading", by using detail, delay and decoy. The first chapter is no doubt one of the most effective openings of any narrative, making it not only "unforgettable", but achieving exactly what McEwan intended it to; the undivided and unconditional attention of the reader.

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