Enduring Love

by

Ian McEwan

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Enduring Love: Chapter 11 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
In a letter to Joe, Jed Parry states that “happiness” is running through him “like an electric current” due to the “unspoken love” that connects the two men. Parry thanks God, he writes, that he and Joe exist in the same world, and he states that while there is “difficulty and pain” ahead of them, God will eventually bring them to “even greater joy.”
Parry’s obsession with Joe and his delusional thinking are explicitly related to his religious belief, a connection that reveals McEwan’s distrust of religion. Meanwhile, the fact that Parry thanks God despite his lack of success with Joe is further evidence of his insanity.
Themes
Rationalism vs. Intuition Theme Icon
Obsession Theme Icon
The Nature of Love Theme Icon
Continuing on in these delusions, Parry apologizes to Joe for not initially feeling the love that Joe clearly felt “from the very beginning,” when the two men first met one another during the ballooning accident. He chastises himself for being “insensitive” and asks Joe again, “in the name of God,” to forgive him. Parry speculates that Joe must have been “weeping too” from the joy of Parry’s many telephone calls, and he guesses that part of Joe’s apparent disinterest in him is due to Joe’s concern about Clarissa’s feelings.
An interesting role-reversal is present in these paragraphs. While Joe has been insensitive to Clarissa in the recent past, it is now Parry who is “insensitive” and Joe who must grant “forgiveness.” That one scenario is real and the other false merely serves to emphasize the extent of Parry’s delusions. He is attempting to enact a domesticity with Joe that doesn’t actually exist.  
Themes
Obsession Theme Icon
The Nature of Love Theme Icon
Parry tells Joe that he already knows quite a bit about Joe’s life, and he begins to relate the story of his own. He describes the “beautiful house” that he has inherited, along with his “lawns” and “courtyard.” He looks forward to the day when Joe will approach the “front door” of the house, where “hardly anyone” goes, “apart from the postman.” Parry explains the chain of events that led to his inheriting the mansion (his aunt married a lucky “crook”), and he assures Joe that his origins are humble and that God has given him his “castle” for “a purpose of His own.”
Jed Parry’s delusional belief that Joe will one day approach his front door is an illustration of his obsession, and the door itself is a symbol of it. For Parry, another person’s use of his front door represents a kind of intimacy: a human connectedness that he, at present, shares with few others, if any. Joe’s use of Parry’s front door will, in Parry’s thinking, represent the fulfillment of all his hopes.
Themes
Obsession Theme Icon
The Nature of Love Theme Icon
Parry explains that loving Joe has made him alert to the natural world as never before: he wants to “touch and stroke” everything he sees. He recalls the fact that Joe “brushed the top of [a] hedge with [his] hand” the previous evening, during the men’s argument in the rain, and he thanks Joe for sending him another “message” by doing so.
Jed Parry’s musings about the natural world are nearly poetic in these paragraphs, a sign that McEwan may intend to draw a comparison between Parry’s delusions and Clarissa’s artful, intuitive thinking. Both stand apart from Joe’s rationalism.
Themes
Rationalism vs. Intuition Theme Icon
Obsession Theme Icon
The Nature of Love Theme Icon
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Relating his career history, Parry tells Joe that he used to teach English as a foreign language but now does little but wait at his grand house for God’s “purpose” to “unfold.” He tells Joe that the house, with its “library,” “huge old sofas,” and “miniature cinema,” is waiting for Joe to come, and while Joe’s “denial of God” is a “barrier,” Parry will soon “mend [that] rift.”
Once again, Parry’s insanity is at one with his religiosity, as the fulfilment of “God’s” ostensible “purpose” would require Parry’s delusional predictions to come true. Chief among those predictions is that Parry will bring Joe, a committed rationalist, to a supernatural religious faith.
Themes
Rationalism vs. Intuition Theme Icon
Obsession Theme Icon
The Nature of Love Theme Icon
Continuing on, Parry offers to speak to Clarissa on Joe’s behalf. He confesses that he feels Joe’s “presence” beside him as he writes, and he apologizes once again for his “refusal” to “recognize” their love in the moments after the ballooning accident. “Joe,” he concludes, “will you ever forgive me?”
Parry’s hold on reality is not completely gone: he recognizes that Clarissa may be one of the things keeping Joe from him. This partial grip on what is real only underlines Parry’s overall insanity.
Themes
Rationalism vs. Intuition Theme Icon
Obsession Theme Icon
The Nature of Love Theme Icon