Enduring Love Essay, Research Paper
A dictionary defines the word addictive as being: wholly devoted to something, a slave to another and in a state of wanting more.
Ian McEwan claimed that he wanted to write an opening chapter that had the same effect as a highly addictive drug. In my opinion he has achieved in doing this. At the end of chapter one the reader is left needing more information about the characters introduced and what tragedy actually occurred.
McEwan took the definition, addictive, and wrote the opening chapter, never forgetting what his objective was.
The opening chapter has to be effective in order to keep the reader interested and to keep them reading. The style of the writer and novel also need to be established and tailored to suit the tastes of anyone that decides to read this novel.
McEwan uses many factors that all contribute towards the effectiveness of the opening chapter. A lot of suspense and tension is used right from the start of the novel, in the first line, “The beginning is simple to mark,” which makes you question, the beginning of what exactly? This is a short sentence that is used which draws you in and leaves you wanting to know more. McEwan also creates a lot of tension, “partly protected from a strong, gusty wind,” which describes the wind as being an unpredictable, natural force which together conveys a sense of urgency.
The narrator also starts to withhold vital information from the reader to create anxiety from within. “The encounter that would unhinge us was minutes away,” the narrator is building up the tension that leads to this huge disaster, but doesn?t just say what is install for him and the other characters. He also hints that the disaster is life changing, “This was the last time that I understood anything clearly at all.” The narrator then goes on to describe the atmosphere and events just before the disaster reached them, “I heard what was coming two seconds before it reached us.” Which is an innuendo, which McEwan uses a lot throughout this first chapter. The narrator then goes on to describe the wind that day using verbs to describe the strength of it, “transversing” and “hurtling,” but before the narrator goes any further he says “Let me freeze the frame,” which is media terminology, which too is used quite a lot through this opening chapter. McEwan uses this technique to build the tension up further, and to draw the reader back into the novel. This helps and encourages the reader to focus and picture what is actually happening, whilst at the same time, its an opportunity for the narrator to introduce a bigger picture of the characters. This is a deliberate narrative technique that he uses. McEwan?s use of syntax also contributes towards the effectiveness of this opening chapter to being addictive. He uses short sentences in places to create excitement and to get the adrenaline of the reader pumping, which makes turning the next page seem irresistible, “I was running towards it. The transformation was absolute.” Which is a fast and pacey style of writing.
In this first chapter, the three main characters: Joe, Clarissa and Jed Parry are introduced.
Joe is a scientist and has a rational way of thinking, and is also the narrator in this novel. He gives a clear and detailed account of events that he saw. His social status could be classed as being upper-middle class, clues to this is in the food he eats, “mozzarella,” “black olives,” “focaccia” and in the places he visits, “Convent Garden” and “Carluccio?s,” which you generally associate with the well-off. He describes the hot-air balloon using very scientific terms, “Helium, that elemental gas forged from hydrogen.” His reaction to the accident is, that if he was in charge, he would of prevented it from happening, “I know if I had been uncontested leader the tragedy would not have happened.” He thinks a lot of himself and comes across as being pompous.
Clarissa, Joe?s wife, is a university lecturer and is researching into the relationship between the romantic poet, John Keats and Fanny Brawne. Joe describes he as being almost perfect, “The warmth and tranquillity in her voice.” She describes Joe as being a “complicated simpleton” which is an oxymoron. Clarissa is a romantic and Joe is a scientist, so basically there is a conflict in their personality?s.
The narrator reveals almost nothing about his relationship with Clarissa apart from that they share a childless marriage, but doesn?t offer us any reasons to why. He does this deliberately, leaving the reader needing more information to feed their addiction that this opening chapter has created.
The other main character that is introduced is Jed Parry. Joe is drawn to him and refers to him more than the other men that were involved in the rescue. Jed is unemployed and living off and inheritance. At this point, not much else is revealed about Jed.
Also, the minor characters are introduced in this chapter, the main one being, John Logan. Logan was a Doctor and married with two children. He was also part of a mountain rescue team. He too was part of the crew that attempted to rescue the young boy, mentally trapped in the hot-air balloon. When the other?s had let go of the ropes, he was still there, holding on, until eventually he either let go or lost his grip and then fell to his death. Which we are left to assume, as it is not clear who actually dies, as again the narrator is leaving the reader in need of more information.
There are many innuendo?s regarding the ?relationship? between Joe and Parry. The narrator, uses a lot of strange phrases to describe Jed, “Rushing towards each other like lovers.” Everything that he talks about, describes, and does, always lead back to Jed more than any of the other men involved in the rescue attempt. “As for Jed Parry my view of him was blocked by the balloon that lay between us,” symbolically its only the balloon that is in-between and keeping them apart. There was no need to mention him either – but he still does. Joe seems to be focusing on Jed and still there?s no apparent reason revealed to us, as to why that is.
Symbolism is used again, but in the description of the wind. Before the disaster takes place, the scene is still in a state of grace and a picture of calm before the storm is created, “Balloon drifting dreamily across the wooded valley.” From then on the wind is a constant feature that symbolises the danger that lies ahead, “The wind that roared.” The wind also symbolises the unpredictability of fate. The wind is described as being an uncontrollable force, which causes anxiety in both the reader and narrator. The wind is a natural element, but it is ruthless and is used to increase the sense of danger, “Met Office figures. . . . . . it was said of 70 miles per hour.” The wind threatens the characters, leaving the reader knowing that disaster is just around the corner.
The idea of a catastrophe is always present throughout the opening chapter. It is used to create excitement in the reader and to fuel the craving of needing more information, “At the inquest” at this point, the reader is left to deal with the fact that, obviously someone died, but it is not yet revealed who – the boy in the basket or Logan. Also, the fact that what happened is life changing, “It was time when other outcomes were still possible.” The narrator even says they “Were running towards a catastrophe.”
All the points I have considered, all contribute towards creating a stimulating and addictive opening chapter. The main stimulant being, the need for more information. Where the narrator deliberately gives you a hint as to what may happen next, he then takes it away from you, making you want the information more – therefor he has created an addiction. The cause of it, being the first chapter, the only way to cure it, is to finish the novel!