This mix of genre is one of the most significant and interesting features if ‘Enduring Love’. By close reference to the text, explore the range and effectiveness of this mix.”
In ‘Enduring Love’ the most prominent genres are love, thriller and the detective genre. We all have expectations from these very different genres, all of these being fulfilled by McEwan. We are captivated by Joe’s love for Clarissa, Jed’s love for Joe and the development of these characters as the plot unfolds. We are intrigued by the detective antics of these three main characters and gripped by the action packed plot.
The structure of ‘Enduring Love’ is very much like that of a detective novel; starting off with the main incident of the plot, or the starting incident and then unfolding and developing in stages throughout the story, and resulting in a more or less stable conclusion. The book is logically written in a linear format in order to enable the reader to follow the plot.
The setting, particularly where the balloon incident occurs, is typical of a detective novel. The setting is very idyllic, where “each leaf seemed to glow with an eternal light”. This indicates tranquillity and peacefulness; therefore making the thought of it being a spot for someone to be killed even more surprising. However, by telling us about the “strong wind” the story is more believable and it allows us to slip into the roles of Joe, Clarissa and the other characters there.
Throughout the novel, the three main characters, at some stage, play the role of the detective. Joe is most commonly the detective. The first example we get of this is when he thinks he sees Jed in the library: –
“I was looking for a pair of white shoes, trainers with red laces. I threaded quickly among the vehicles throbbing patiently.”
He then does all his research on Jed Parry as though he is preparing for a case in which Jed must be proved guilty. The appendix at the end of the novel is evidence of this lengthy research. It is sort of a conclusion to answer any questions the reader has but also to provoke more thought from them. We are able to view Joe as the ‘overall’ detective as the majority of the novel is from his point of view and written in the first person narrative. It is easy to think of Joe as the leading detective in these adverse events.
Jed plays detective when trying to find out more about Joe: –
“I read them last night, thirty five of them. I’ve got your books too.”
Clarissa’s role as the detective, primarily, is not to do with the main story line, but to do with Keats. She researches him thoroughly. This accuracy of her research is important when it comes to Joe. Her questioning of Joe’s mental state invites the reader, also, to question it because if Clarissa, the woman who has loved Joe for seven years and an expert at precision, has doubts there must be good reason for them: –
“They’d be evidence for me…I don’t know what to think.”
Other evidence of “Enduring Love” having features of the detective genre are the actual crimes which occur and the way in which they are dealt with. Suspense is built up when the two gunmen walk into the restaurant by the description of their clothes: –
“Both men wore black coats which gave them a priestly look. There was ceremony in their stillness”. The word “stillness” gives me a feeling of ‘the calm before the storm’, hinting that something terrible is going to happen. This shooting incident is also somewhat of a red herring. We are not certain, when being investigated by the police whether this shooting was because of Jed Parry or if it was all just a figment of Joe’s imagination. This uncertainty is down to the scrutinising questioning of Detective Inspector Wallace, a character who is very much stereotyped by McEwan in order to define the detective genre. He reads out a number of “items” all contradicting Joe’s version of the lunchtime happenings, then “…smiled, or rather stretched his lips without parting them”.
All of these aspects of the detective genre force the reader to ask questions, questioning the characters, the plot and even themselves.
In the novel McEwan uses a variety of types of love. Firstly there is the true love of Clarissa and Joe. Their love is the typical ‘Hollywood Love’. McEwan creates this interpretation by the way in which Joe describes his love with, and for, Clarissa. Sex is quite a major feature of this: –
“She caressed my balls…kissed my belly…we’ll have to love each other even harder.” This rather graphic description of their love shows how intimacy is very important to them. It shows their love as being very intense. This is their way of trying to overcome what has happened that day with the balloon. It shows the reader the originality but natural desire of love. This love-making scene is also used by McEwan to show the difference between the two characters. Clarissa says, “We don’t have to do anything. I just want to hold you.” This implies how she is the one instigating the sex and Joe is holding back, feeling it perhaps a little inappropriate. It shows us Clarissa’s emotional and desirous personality which mirrors Joe’s more rational view of life.
However, as in all love stories, the couple do not stay this blissfully happy for long. Developments in the plot generate many feelings and traits. By using this roller coaster of emotion McEwan is trying to capture the readers own emotions. One of the first ‘wrongs’ Joe does is not tell Clarissa about the phone call from Jed straight away. This deceitfulness and dishonesty indicates their love is maybe not totally secure. These feelings are aroused again when Joe “pulled open the door in which she kept her recent correspondence” he “cared less by the second ” that he was “behaving badly”. This out right deception of Clarissa’s trust is very important to the plot, especially compared to the earlier scenes of their blissfully happy romance. It shows the way in which Jed’s antics have changed Joe. He starts doing things he would never have dreamed of doing before.
Jed’s passion for Joe however is very different to the passion in the love making scenes of Joe and Clarissa. His passion is based very much on fantasy. Fantasy is often a prominent feature of the love genre. McEwan uses it in “Enduring Love” though as more of a psychological fantasy, in the form of de Clï¿½rambault’s syndrome. This fantasy is incredibly intense. Through the entire story Jed is intent on putting across the constancy and purity of his love for Joe: –
“I love you…I worry for you”. Also, what he keeps constant is his love for God: –
“How is it possible to love you and God at the same time?” Jed constantly tells us of his love for God and uses this to try and persuade Joe to love him also: –
“Accept me, and you’ll find yourself accepting God” and is outraged at Joe’s suggestion that “A woman novelist dreamed up God.” Jed appears very desperate to win Joe’s love and recognition. He sees Joe as being of a higher social status and can see that Joe could quite easily want to ignore him: –
“There is one thing you must never do…that is to ignore me, to pretend its not happening, to deny the difficulty or pain of love.” By using this persuasive language McEwan is showing the desperation of Jed, but also the desperation of love in general. Even though this example of love is very negative, the situation of one person dearly loving another and that love not being reciprocated can be applied to many situations and relationships in society.
As Joe and Clarissa’s love develops, so does the love of Jed for Joe. At the beginning of the book Jed just wants Joe to recognise him and to accept God: “Accept me and you’ll find yourself accepting God.” But, he then goes on to ask more of Joe, expecting him to change his life: –
“You have to tell Clarissa…move all your stuff… explain to all your friends…your change of address and revolution in beliefs.” With Joe obviously not responding to these requests Jed becomes more threatening, with these threats leading to the incident in the restaurant, and eventually the shooting at Joe’s house.
Although these are the two prominent loves in the story there are many other different types of love: the family love of the Logans, the young, fresh love of Bonnie and the Professor and Clarissa’s love for children. These all help to convey McEwan’s message that there is a great variety of love and it can be applied in many shapes and forms.
“Enduring Love” in-corporates the thriller genre in many different ways. Firstly, the unknown past of two of the main characters, Joe and Clarissa. I think McEwan has done this so the reader does not create any pre-conceptions of the characters leading them to make misleading judgements. We have a small history of Jed. I think this is necessary though, as the reader needs to know the reasons for Jed’s mental instability in order to understand his condition. Although these three characters are all well developed, the rest of the characters are not. For example the people who Joe bought the gun off and the detectives. McEwan does this in order for the story to flow and make sense but without taking the importance away from the main characters.
In thrillers there is usually a hero. In “Enduring Love” both Joe and John Logan could be seen as heroes in some ways. Joe being the main protagonist but Logan being the true hero, dying in order to save another. His supremacy is increased by the fact that he was the only man in the rescue party who was prepared to risk his life to save that of a child’s. He was courageous and selfless.
The psychological aspect of the book also ties in with the thriller genre. With Joe playing the psychologist we are able to explore and try to work out the way in which, particularly Jed’s mind works: –
“The pattern of his love was not shaped by external influences” but “a world driven by private necessity”, “He crouched in a cell…devising…teasing out meanings…always scrutinising…always finding satisfaction.”
As well as Joe’s psychological view point McEwan offers us an insight into how Jed’s mind functions by his letters. These are from Jed’s point of view, so from this first person narrative we get a more personal view of what is going on in Jed’s head: –
“Perhaps I’m angry because I’m impatient for our life together to begin.”
The story is action packed like that of a thriller. Firstly, with the ballooning accident. You can almost feel the adrenaline pumping through Joe’s body as he ran towards it. McEwan uses lots of commas when describing the incident to allow the reader to hear Joe’s breathless and shaky voice: –
“The balloon rose and fell, thumping into a hammock, and the boy dropped backwards out of sight”. There is also a lot of violence in the novel, particularly towards the end. When Joe goes to collect the gun Xan and Steve start fighting: –
“His left hand flew at Xan’s throat and gripped. Xan threw back his free arm…then whip-lashed his open hand against Steve’s face.” I think this is almost a warning of what is to come with Jed. When Steve and Xan are fighting, Joe is reluctant to take “responsibility for the fight”. However I think it prepares him, making him more willing to stand in and take responsibility back at his apartment ‘aim the gun at Jed’s right side.’ By shooting Jed he is trying to show his masculinity and courage, but in thrillers, in my opinion, shooting someone shows weakness. It is used as a last resort when other methods of deterrent or persuasion have failed. Joe failed to persuade Jed into not killing himself, these suicidal actions not being part of Joe’s plan. If Jed was still trying to kill Clarissa Joe would have had more of an excuse and would have been able to be viewed as a hero. But, Jed had crumbled, stooping low enough to take his own life.
In most thrillers there is some sort of twist at the end. In the case of “Enduring Love” it is learning about the affair of Bonnie and the Professor. It answers our questions about Jean Logan’s suspicions of her husband having an affair, while being a logical suggestion the reader never thought of. This is very clever writing by McEwan.
Finally, in my opinion, a good thriller novel always leaves the reader asking questions. The appendix answers all our questions about what happened to Jed Parry, but we never find out what happens with Joe and Clarissa’s relationship. I want to know if they will be able to put the ballooning accident, and all the incidents proceeding it, behind them now knowing the full story.
By using this mix of three main genres McEwan has created a novel that allows the reader to think, ask questions, follow, be kept in suspense, speculate and most importantly, enjoy. Because of this variety “Enduring Love” appeals to a wide range of readers all looking for a clever and articulate read.