The relationship between Clarissa and Joe changes throughout the story. The only sorrow at first is the fact that Clarissa couldn’t have children, but despite this they still had a steady, satisfying relationship and were very happy, contented and loving. After the balloon incident and Joe learns of Jed’s obsession, and in turn becomes obsessed himself, the relationship between Clarissa and him deteriorates. Slowly at first but then rapidly until they no longer live as lovers, but more so as a matter of having to. Trust and communication breaks down and eventually Clarissa moves out. However there is still love between them, and once the truth is discovered they learn there is still a chance to work at their relationship to piece things together again.
From the very beginning in chapter one it starts with Joe talking about Clarissa, giving the impression of their relationship as he talks of a romantic picnic alone together that he had thoughtfully prepared. On page three Joe states:
“Even without the balloon the day would have been marked for memory, through the most pleasurable of ways, for this was a reuniting after a separation of six weeks, the longest Clarissa and I had spent apart in our seven years”
This gives you the idea that he is excited to see her and they are in a very strong loving relationship as they have been together for a long time and he has missed her.
Through out the balloon incident it doesn’t make reference much about their relationship, but does state how Clarissa puts her arms around his waist and how she tells him to slow down because she is worried about him. Joe also does not like Jed making reference to Clarissa’s name, showing he is protective of her.
Shortly after the balloon incident Clarissa and Joe sit down together to discuss to each other about their versions of events and how it made each of them feel. They sit and talk for hours, something they often did, which shows the strength of their friendship together and how well they got on and communicated. It brings them closer together. The night ends with them going hand-to-hand in bed, facing each other, Clarissa’s arms around Joe’s neck. It is up until here that everything seems prefect between them and they are very happily in love with one another.
It is this night, that Joe receives a phone call from Jed, telling him that he loves him. Joe immediately hangs up and when questioned by Clarissa, he lies to her and tells her it’s the wrong number. When Clarissa later learns of this, she feels discluded and that trust was broken, especially as it took him two days to tell her the truth. This does not anger her so much to start with, she in fact finds it amusing that Jed may have a crush on Joe, but when Joe’s behaviour changes, she then refers back to this in a more betrayed and angry view.
In Chapter nine it shows the relationship is quite different. It is written by Joe but from Clarissa’s point of view, where the majority of the story is written from Joe’s point of view. Clarissa has had a hard day at work, is feeling unwell and wants to be looked after. When she gets in Joe is reeling off what has happened in his day straight away to her, with no kiss, greeting, or hello. A change of manor in his usual approach. They are both insensitive and selfish to each other’s needs at this point, and Clarissa thinks Joe may even be throwing accusation against her for being so wrong that Jed was no threat to them.
Clarissa is trying to have a relaxing bath alone, as she knows Joe is in no state to ‘look after’ her but he wont stop going on. Joe on the other hand just wants Clarissa to listen and talk to him about Jed and see that there is someone stalking him. Joe sounds a little crazy and irrational to Clarissa. One of the reasons Clarissa chose Jed as a partner was because of his rationalness and cool head. Her father had died when she was a child of Alzheimer’s and she always feared being with someone who went crazy. She finds his behaviour manic and irrational. She becomes fed up and annoyed with him and questions as to why he deleted all 30 messages off the answer machine form Joe, as this would have been evidence. She had also not seen Jed since the balloon incident and was finding it hard not to help but think he may be going crazy. Joe realises that he’s beingquestioned. The conversation carries on and Joe ends up leaving the flat after an argument and slamming the door behind him. This is the first argument they have ever had like this and shows the start of the breakdown of trust and communication.
Jed now begins to stalk Joe even more and become obsessed with him. He’s writing letters to Joe and is waiting outside his house on a regular basis. In turn Joe becomes obsessed with Jed’s obsession with him. He does research into the way Jed behaves, spends all his time thinking about him, shuts off to Clarissa needs and is infatuated on his own and wants Clarissa to be there for him, and listen and believe what he is telling her, which of course she finds hard to do.
The distance between Joe and Clarissa widens even more, and Joe beings to lose faith in Clarissa and has become jealous and insecure. In his mind he is speaking the truth, so doubts Clarissa’s motives and thinks she may be looking for an excuse to get out of the relationship. Joe puts Clarissa’s view on the situation down to her trying to hide an affair. He invades her privacy and goes through her letters in her drawer in her study. Jed is making him paranoid, and is having an effect on their relationship. There is of course no affair to hide, and he finds nothing, and feels guilty about what he has done but no better to how his feelings are as to why Clarissa is not trusting and supporting him. He puts more time and effort onto researching Jed’s behaviour and becomes more afraid that Jed is a serious threat and danger.
Clarissa finds out about the invasion of privacy. Along with Joe’s behaviour changes, the fact that she finds it hard to believe Joe, accusing him that the letters from Jed are of similar writing to his own, his irrationalness and obsession comparing that of with her fathers illness, the fact he deleted the answer machine messages, and she has not seen Jed once outside the house, she tells Joe that their relationship is over and suggests to him that she thinks he may be ill. It is then that Joe feels very alone, and realises he will have to go alone at this by himself.
Even though they are now no longer together and are sleeping in separate rooms, there is still an arrangement of dinner with Clarissa’s godfather for her birthday that they were to attend together. And they do indeed keep this arrangement. Joe has also bought Clarissa an expensive first edition of Keats poems, which shows he still feels strongly for her. Clarissa greets Joe, and her attitude is very warm and inviting showing that love is still there
“She came skipping through the din and took my hand” shows there is still a strong bond between them.
“Before I sat down I kissed her. These days our tongues never touched, but this time they did” She is very pleased with her present and whispers in Joes ear “It must of cost you thousands…” “Then she put her lips to my ear and like it was like the good old days” ” You’re a bad boy to spend so much money. I’m going to make you fuck me all afternoon”. This is all very different to the way their relationship has been up until now, and like Joe states it is like the old days when they were close.
After the shooting at the restaurant, Joe’s version was that the intention was for him to be shot, and it was Jed that had intervened. The relationship goes back to the state that it was in, with Clarissa not waiting up for Joe to return from the police station and her fear being reminded still of Joes obsession and state of mind. Joe becomes very anxious and his fears are confirmed that he is in real danger, so he buys a gun. The difference in their feelings and reactions after this incident throws them further apart.
Soon after he had bought the gun, on his way home he received a phone call from Jed, who was in the flat with Clarissa with a knife. Joe’s immediate reaction is to get back to Clarissa as soon as possible. All throughout the story we know that Joe still has very strong feelings for Clarissa and still loves her dearly. It is more Clarissa that has backed away. After this it is expected that Clarissa will now regret her doubts she had about Joe, Joe will have no more reason to obsess and they will embrace and be reunited straight away. But when Joe arrives at the scene and manages to stop Jed from doing any harm to either Clarissa, or as threatened to himself, Clarissa and Joe are not reunited immediately for so much had gone on it could not be easily forgotten.
Chapter 23 is a letter written from Clarissa to Joe with her perspective. She is very sorry for not having believed Joe in the first place and apologises for this, but she believes that Joe may have provoked Jed to acting the way he did by reacting to the stalking in the first place. She refers to the fact that he went at it alone from the very beginning, when he decided not to tell her it was Jed on the phone the very first time, and how he shut her out, the first argument they had had when he stormed out of the house. How he wanted to talk about nothing else and was obsessed and how his obsession affected everything about then including their sex life. Joe even stated “self-consciousness is the destroyer of erotic joy” meaning once they had started to distrust each other it became hard to relax and feel comfortable enough to make love to each other. She also writes to say how he was “manic, driven and very lonely” He got “deeper into himself and further away from her” She also says that’s she believes it may be that he was so full of guilt that he may have been the one to let go of the rope first that he presented and escape by transferring all his guilt into the obsession of Jed. At the end how she always thought their love was the kind of love that would go on forever, and that perhaps it still would but she just didn’t know t the moment.
The relationship, in conclusion, between Joe & Clarissa changed several times. They have always been in love, and the love has never died. It was questioned by both of them when Jed became involved. The trust and communication broke down. The support, friendship and love became lost. Clarissa doubted Joe’s sanity, outlook, and did not believe him. She felt he became obsessed and blocked her out, pushing her away. Joe felt Clarissa was unsupportive of the fact he was being stalked and did not listen to him and that he felt he was increasingly on his own. They went up and down a few times, down usually when Joe’s obsession seemed thrown back after an incident with Joe. Once the truth came out about Jed, Clarissa needed time away from Joe properly to think and went to live with her brother. Time and distance for them worked as a healer. There was no more need to be obsessed or to doubt each other. They had never lost sight of love they learned to overcome what had happened and got back together, and continued where they had once left off. They later completed what was missing, a child, and adopted.