Significance of Time in Enduring Love

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The title interlinks with the aspect of time “Enduring” which means continuing. The significance of time within the novel has been used in a variety of different ways. McEwan appears to use time as a driving theme of the text as the first chapter opens with ‘the beginning is simple to mark’ and continues further on with ‘this was a pinprick on the time map’. This immediately draws the reader’s attention to the idea of beginnings, endings and sequences. Later on in the chapter, McEwan continues with these ideas as Joe says ‘it marked the beginning and, of course, an end.’ This consciously alerts the reader to the start and finish of 'chapters' in Joe's life. McEwan conveys a sense of time as being drawn out, events taking much longer in the novel than could clearly be the case in real life. Time here seems dependent on the character's own feelings about events, here reflecting much more Joe's own experience of it rather than what would be consistent with the events. McEwan draws out the running towards the balloon as Joe speaks in great detail, going over all the details, taking time to switch perspectives and even referring back to previous events of the day. This, perhaps, reflects Joe’s feelings of the period between hearing the shout and reaching the balloon as too long and drawn out and possibly mirroring his own frustration at his speed. This expansion of time is also used as a ‘delay’ as Joe says he is ‘lingering in the prior moment because it was a time when other outcomes were still possible’. This reflects Joe’s desire to stop time at that point and shift the pathway of events. Joe then delays the action further by returning to an earlier point in the day, starting from that point and continuing. This mirrors Joe and Clarissa’s later ‘obsessive re-examination’, adds to the mixed up time frame of the story and creates greater suspense for the reader.

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