Enduring Love

by

Ian McEwan

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Clarissa Mellon Character Analysis

Clarissa Mellon is a secondary protagonist of Enduring Love and the wife of Joe Rose. A literary historian, Clarissa is especially interested in the Romantic British poet John Keats, a piece of whose correspondence she is attempting to locate as the novel begins. In the early days of Clarissa’s relationship with Joe, she writes him long, passionate letters, an act that helps to reveal her highly emotional and loving character. Though Clarissa adores children and has set aside a special room in the couple’s apartment in which nieces and nephews may play, she is herself unable to have a child due to a medical error in her early adulthood, and she is haunted by “the absence of babies” in her life. In part because she is guided by intuition and emotion rather than Joe’s rationalism, Clarissa spends much of the novel unconvinced that Jed Parry is a true threat to Joe, believing instead that Joe has exaggerated the danger as a result of the emotional trauma of the ballooning accident. It is only when Parry breaks into her apartment and takes her hostage that Clarissa concedes that Joe was right about the man, and even then she insists that Joe unnecessarily isolated himself throughout his interaction with Parry rather than allowing Clarissa access to his most personal thoughts and feelings. As the novel ends, Clarissa, like Joe, seems interested in reconciliation but unsure of its likelihood.

Clarissa Mellon Quotes in Enduring Love

The Enduring Love quotes below are all either spoken by Clarissa Mellon or refer to Clarissa Mellon. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Anchor Books edition of Enduring Love published in 1998.
Chapter 2 Quotes

Like a self in a dream, I was both first and third persons. I acted, and saw myself act. I had my thoughts, and I saw them drift across a screen. As in a dream, my emotional responses were nonexistent or inappropriate. Clarissa’s tears were no more than a fact, but I was pleased by the way my feet were anchored to the ground and set well apart, and the way my arms were folded across my chest.

Related Characters: Joe Rose (speaker), Clarissa Mellon
Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 3 Quotes

I said, “We tried to help and we failed.”
She smiled and shook her head. I went and stood by her chair and put my arms around her and protectively kissed the top of her head. With a sigh she pressed her face against my shirt and looped her arms around my waist. Her voice was muffled. “You’re such a dope. You’re so rational sometimes you’re like a child.”

Related Characters: Joe Rose (speaker), Clarissa Mellon (speaker), James Gadd, Harry Gadd
Page Number: 36
Explanation and Analysis:

“I’ll tell you one thing it means, dummkopf. We’ve seen something terrible together. It won’t go away, and we have to help each other. And that means we’ll have to love each other even harder.”
Of course. Why didn’t I think of this? Why didn’t I think like this? We needed love.

Related Characters: Joe Rose (speaker), Clarissa Mellon (speaker), Jean Logan
Page Number: 36
Explanation and Analysis:

“I love you more now I’ve seen you go completely mad,” she said. “The rationalist cracks at last!”

Related Characters: Clarissa Mellon (speaker), Joe Rose
Page Number: 38
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8 Quotes

A few years ago, science book editors could think of nothing but chaos. Now they were banging their desks for every possible slant on neo-Darwinism, evolutionary psychology, and genetics. I wasn’t complaining—business was good—but Clarissa had generally taken against the whole project. It was rationalism gone berserk. “It’s the new fundamentalism,” she had said one evening . . . . What a zoologist had to say about a baby’s smile could be of no real interest. The truth of that smile was in the eye and heart of the parent, and in the unfolding love that only had meaning through time.

Related Characters: Joe Rose (speaker), Clarissa Mellon (speaker)
Page Number: 74-75
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 9 Quotes

“The guy’s ridiculous,” Joe continues. “He’s fixated.” Clarissa begins to speak, but he waves her down. “I can’t get you to take this seriously. Your only concern is I’m not massaging your damned feet after your hard day.”

Related Characters: Joe Rose (speaker), Clarissa Mellon, Jed Parry
Page Number: 92-93
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 12 Quotes

It wasn’t that she believed Parry, I told myself, it was that his letter was so steamily self-convinced, such an unfaked narrative of emotion—for he obviously had experienced the feelings he described—that it was bound to elicit certain appropriate automatic responses. Even a trashy movie can make you cry. There were deep emotional reactions that ducked the censure of the higher reasoning processes and forced us to enact, however vestigially, our roles: I, the indignant secret lover revealed; Clarissa, the woman cruelly betrayed. But when I tried to say something like this, she looked at me and shook her head slightly from side to side in wonderment at my stupidity.

Related Characters: Joe Rose (speaker), Clarissa Mellon, Jed Parry
Page Number: 109
Explanation and Analysis:

Our easy ways with each other, effortlessly maintained for years, suddenly seemed to me an elaborate construct, a finely balanced artifice, like an ancient carriage clock. We were losing the trick of keeping it going, or of keeping it going without concentrating hard.

Related Characters: Joe Rose (speaker), Clarissa Mellon
Page Number: 110
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 19 Quotes

The tall man, ready to cast his spell, pointed his wand at Colin Tapp.
And Tapp himself was suddenly ahead of us all by a second. His face showed us what we didn’t understand about the spell. His puzzlement, congealed in terror, could not find a word to tell us, because there was no time. The silenced bullet struck through his white shirt at his shoulder and lifted him from his chair and smacked him against the wall. The high-velocity impact forced a fine spray, a blood mist, across our tablecloth, our desserts, our hands, our sight. My first impulse was simple and self-protective: I did not believe what I was seeing.

Related Characters: Joe Rose (speaker), Clarissa Mellon, Jed Parry, Jocelyn Kale, Colin Tapp
Page Number: 185
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 23 Quotes

“But what I was also trying to say last night was this: your being right is not a simple matter.”

Related Characters: Clarissa Mellon (speaker), Joe Rose, Jed Parry
Page Number: 233
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 24 Quotes

This breathless scrambling for forgiveness seemed to me almost mad, Mad Hatterish, here on the riverbank where Lewis Carroll, the dean of Christ Church, had once entertained the darling objects of his own obsessions. I caught Clarissa’s eye and we exchanged a half-smile, and it was as if we were pitching our own requests for mutual forgiveness, or at least tolerance, in there with Jean’s and Reid’s frantic counterpoint. I shrugged as though to say that, like her in her letter, I just did not know.

Page Number: 247-248
Explanation and Analysis:
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Clarissa Mellon Character Timeline in Enduring Love

The timeline below shows where the character Clarissa Mellon appears in Enduring Love. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
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Joe Rose and his wife, Clarissa Mellon, are having a picnic. They’ve journeyed to the Chilterns, a hilly region in southeast... (full context)
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As Joe recalls this moment, he pauses to consider what Clarissa is doing at the same instant. Joe reveals that Clarissa walks (but does not run)... (full context)
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...information for a time in order to first recount the circumstances that brought him and Clarissa to the Chilterns in the first place. Clarissa, the reader is told, has been in... (full context)
Chapter 2
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...few steps away, shouting about his grandson, Harry, who is still in the balloon’s basket. Clarissa has stepped toward Joe and put her arms around him, but although she is crying,... (full context)
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...Logan’s body. Perversely, Joe has convinced himself that Logan might still be alive, and though Clarissa, recognizing that Joe is in shock, urges him to “slow down,” he ignores her. As... (full context)
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...notices sheep grazing in the field, and though he wants to turn and shout to Clarissa, he is ashamed of his behavior at the top of the hill. He worries that... (full context)
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...“of making a statement on the rising inflection of a question.” Parry tells Joe that Clarissa is worried about him, and Joe responds with a hostile silence, disliking Parry’s use of... (full context)
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...to believe in anything at all,” but Joe, stating that he has to return to Clarissa, finally begins to depart. (full context)
Chapter 3
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Joe and Clarissa have returned to their London home. The time is 6:00 PM, and Joe is surprised... (full context)
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...the “familiar weight of the wineglasses and in the grain of the deal table.” First Clarissa speaks, then Joe interrupts, and vice versa. Together, they “heap curses on” James Gadd “and... (full context)
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Joe shows Clarissa the rope burns on his palm, which he received just before the balloon carried him... (full context)
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...Jed Parry and his insatiable desire for prayer, he tells it “as comedy and [makes] Clarissa laugh.” Joe feels an urge to tell Clarissa that he loves her, but instead he... (full context)
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...two of them are back in their seats, going over the story once more. When Clarissa insists that Logan “was a good man,” Joe is reminded of “the routine surgical procedure... (full context)
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...safely on its own and that the child, Harry Gadd, is unharmed. Neither Joe nor Clarissa wants to believe that John Logan “died for nothing,” but Clarissa goes a step further,... (full context)
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Clarissa responds that Joe is “so rational sometimes [he’s] like a child,” and she insists that... (full context)
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As the two of them undress and embrace, Clarissa confesses that she feels “scared” and that she’s “shivering inside.” To calm themselves, the two... (full context)
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After their friends leave, just after one in the morning, Joe and Clarissa prepare for the next day—a Monday, and Clarissa’s first day back in the classroom after... (full context)
Chapter 4
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Joe and Clarissa wake the next morning and go about their normal routines. Clarissa returns to work at... (full context)
Chapter 5
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...a science book prize. After the meeting, he realizes that he needs to talk to Clarissa and feels that “the effort of appearing sane and judicious” for so many hours has... (full context)
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...resulted in the shot of adrenaline he now feels, and he quickly turns to find Clarissa approaching him, home from her evening with her brother at last. Clarissa tells Joe that... (full context)
Chapter 6
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...vaguely reminiscent of portholes. Joe recalls the “frenetic month” after moving in and confesses that Clarissa and he have yet to decorate their side of the apartment’s roof, whereas their neighbors,... (full context)
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...of his writing and his culpability in John Logan’s death, Joe fails to notice that Clarissa has joined him “until she sat down on the other side of the table.” (full context)
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Joe understands that now is the time to tell Clarissa the truth about Jed Parry’s phone call, “before her kindness and our love got the... (full context)
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Though the couple do not yet quarrel, Joe can tell that Clarissa is moving through their conversation “with the caution of a bomb disposal expert,” and he... (full context)
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...apartment to meet Parry, he is comforted by the fact that he can still smell Clarissa’s perfume lingering on the stairs. (full context)
Chapter 7
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...meet Joe’s eye. Joe offers Parry a handshake and considers as he does so that Clarissa was right: though Parry is a “nuisance,” he is “hardly the threat [Joe] made him... (full context)
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...down a taxi. As Joe climbs into the cab, Parry suggests that he, Joe, and Clarissa should all meet and talk. Joe directs the cabdriver to speed away before Parry can... (full context)
Chapter 8
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...on to other thoughts, Joe recalls the scene at Heathrow airport when he picked up Clarissa on the day of the ballooning accident. Joe believes that he might be able to... (full context)
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...into which Joe’s smile theory neatly fits. As he considers the matter, Joe remembers that Clarissa has “generally taken against the whole project” of evolutionary psychology and finds it to be... (full context)
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...science can increase its appreciation of that phenomenon, as well. He remembers, too, however, how Clarissa claimed that he was misunderstanding her—that she was talking about “love” rather than any particular... (full context)
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...retreats into his apartment. Once inside, Joe hears the phone ring. He answers, thinking that Clarissa might be calling, only to find Parry on the other end once again. Hiding behind... (full context)
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...clearly a product of Parry’s imagination. Returning to his study, Joe sits and broods until Clarissa returns home, promising himself that he will find a way back to “original research.” (full context)
Chapter 9
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Joe indicates that he will narrate Clarissa’s return home from her perspective. She has had a bad day at work dealing with... (full context)
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...no transition or pause, Joe finishes his rant about Jed Parry and begins to tell Clarissa about a conversation he has had with a particle physicist friend about a potential job... (full context)
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As Joe continues talking uninterruptedly, Clarissa resigns herself to the fact that Joe “is not going to take care of her.”... (full context)
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Preparing her bath, Clarissa reflects further on Joe’s emotional state, noting that his “precise and careful mind . .... (full context)
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Clarissa uses this moment of contradiction to finally interrupt Joe, explaining that he has been talking... (full context)
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Clarissa is unmoved by Joe’s claims, however, and asks him why he erased the messages on... (full context)
Chapter 10
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...access it, and because he senses that he needs to set right his relationship with Clarissa, Joe loses Parry in the traffic and begins to jog home. (full context)
Chapter 11
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...guesses that part of Joe’s apparent disinterest in him is due to Joe’s concern about Clarissa’s feelings. (full context)
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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,... (full context)
Chapter 12
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His relationship with Clarissa, Joe narrates, has continued to be difficult. Though the two have been “affable” and have... (full context)
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...to remember the morning in question, Joe recalls that an “unarticulated dispute” had lingered between Clarissa and him despite the cheerfulness with which she had kissed him goodbye. Joe thinks that... (full context)
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After Clarissa leaves the house, Joe allows himself to entertain other “bad thoughts,” wondering whether Clarissa is... (full context)
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Though Joe tells himself that he is merely attempting to “bring light and understanding” to Clarissa’s failure to support him, he nevertheless understands that, by invading Clarissa’s privacy, he is sacrificing... (full context)
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Browsing Clarissa’s letters, Joe finds a note from Jocelyn Kale, Clarissa’s godfather and an eminent professor, inviting... (full context)
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As Joe continues to drive, his thoughts turn to the evening after his invasion of Clarissa’s privacy. Clarissa was “friendly, even vivacious,” and Joe felt guilty about the fact that he... (full context)
Chapter 13
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...that he needs immediately to return to London in order to “save” his relationship with Clarissa. (full context)
Chapter 14
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As he stares at Jean Logan’s children, Joe reflects on his and Clarissa’s history with kids. Though Joe has “never looked after a child for any length of... (full context)
Chapter 15
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...why she hasn’t come forward. Wandering the field, Joe recalls the happiness that he and Clarissa shared before the intrusion of Jed Parry into their lives. He wants to “imagine a... (full context)
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...love, and he wonders what he “could learn about Parry that would restore [him] to Clarissa.” (full context)
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...thrash [him] within an inch of [his] life.” Stepping into his apartment, Joe senses that Clarissa is home and that something is wrong, yet he is unable to find her when... (full context)
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Though her voice is “calm,” Clarissa is clearly “very angry” as she tells Joe that she hasn’t been able to muster... (full context)
Chapter 17
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Several weeks later, Joe and Clarissa are lying in bed “long past midnight,” and Joe is reflecting on the state of... (full context)
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Considering the specifics of this cold existence, Joe recalls how he and Clarissa sleep “in the same bed” but never “embrace”—how they use “the same bathroom” but never... (full context)
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Setting aside these recollections, Joe watches Clarissa on the bed beside him. He wonders if the many years they have spent together... (full context)
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To Joe’s surprise, Clarissa responds to this gesture by declaring that things between them are “over.” Joe realizes, upon... (full context)
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Clarissa herself, Joe recalls, is unsure about the number of doors she saw open on John... (full context)
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As Joe pursues these thoughts, he is interrupted by Clarissa, whose declaration about their relationship he has yet to answer. Clarissa accuses Joe, accurately, of... (full context)
Chapter 18
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It is Clarissa’s birthday, and, to Joe’s surprise, she kisses him when he gives her a card. Joe... (full context)
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As Clarissa leaves for work, Joe goes to his study to wrap her present: an early edition... (full context)
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...in a way that clearly indicates its criminality. As Duty Inspector Linley asks Joe about Clarissa’s response to Parry, it quickly becomes clear that Linley suspects that Joe’s mental state may... (full context)
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Late for Clarissa’s birthday lunch, Joe leaves the station in frustration and rushes to the restaurant where he... (full context)
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Reflecting further on Clarissa’s last birthday, Joe recalls the specifics of that day. He had worked on an essay... (full context)
Chapter 19
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Arriving twenty minutes late for lunch, Joe sees Clarissa and Jocelyn Kale across the restaurant and notices that Clarissa remains in her “elated” mood.... (full context)
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Jocelyn gives Clarissa a brooch representing the “double helix” of human DNA, which once belonged to Jocelyn’s deceased... (full context)
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...was “too beautiful not to be true,” Joe seizes on the word “beauty” and offers Clarissa his own gift, recalling John Keats’s famous line, “beauty is truth, truth beauty.” The gift... (full context)
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At Joe’s own table, Clarissa has taken up Jocelyn’s story about the discovery of DNA, in which “young men [were]... (full context)
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As Joe realizes that the two men are hired assassins, he simultaneously understands that he, Clarissa, and Jocelyn have been the intended targets. Because the neighboring table also contained two men... (full context)
Chapter 20
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Clarissa is the first in Joe’s party to speak to the police. As she returns, she... (full context)
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...on Joe’s life. Irrelevantly, Detective Constable Wallace insists on talking about the Keats-Wordsworth story that Clarissa told in the restaurant. After a while, however, he comes to his point: the scholarly... (full context)
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...passed at the police station, and finds that Jed Parry is nowhere to be seen. Clarissa has left a note saying that she has gone to bed, and Joe pours himself... (full context)
Chapter 21
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...other line. Parry is in Joe’s apartment, he reveals, and, disturbingly, he’s “sitting [t]here with Clarissa.” (full context)
Chapter 22
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Jed Parry puts Clarissa on the phone, and she tells Joe that he must “come straight back” and can’t... (full context)
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...Joe tries calling the apartment but receives no answer. He considers alerting the police despite Clarissa’s warning but realizes that he is likely to be met once more with a “weary... (full context)
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...the fire escape to the roof. Looking into the kitchen through a skylight, he sees Clarissa’s bag but nothing else. Yet a second skylight gives him a view of Clarissa sitting... (full context)
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...the safety on the gun as he does so. Stepping into the apartment, Joe calls Clarissa’s name then finds her and Parry in the sitting room, where he observed them moments... (full context)
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...“an edge of something black” protruding from Parry’s pocket. When Joe urges Parry to release Clarissa now that Joe has arrived, Parry responds that he “needs” both of them and that... (full context)
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When Clarissa assures Parry that Joe never meant to do him any harm, Parry grows increasingly nervous... (full context)
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Joe reflects on the fact that he and Clarissa should, in a perfect world, have reunited at that very moment, even as the police... (full context)
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...the police took him away, Joe recalls the look of “repulsion and surprise” with which Clarissa responded to the sight of him with a gun. Thinking about her reaction, he finally... (full context)
Chapter 23
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The narrative shifts to a letter that Clarissa has written to Joe sometime after Joe’s shooting of Jed Parry. Clarissa opens by apologizing... (full context)
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However, Clarissa states, Joe’s “being right is not a simple matter.” Clarissa continues to believe that the... (full context)
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Continuing on, Clarissa suggests that much of Joe’s emotional turmoil over the last many weeks has been due... (full context)
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Clarissa’s most important point, which she soon comes to, is that Parry’s ultimate violence was never... (full context)
Chapter 24
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...one he arranged in the novel’s opening chapter, and the day after that he picks Clarissa up in his car and drives the two of them to Oxford. Joe experiences “a... (full context)
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Joe reflects on the intense fight to which Clarissa alluded in their letter. He refers to the argument as “an orgy of mutual accusation”... (full context)
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Arriving at Jean Logan’s house, Joe and Clarissa are greeted by Leo, who is “naked but for face paint done in clumsy tiger... (full context)
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...group makes its way to a meadow as Jean remarks how “good” both Joe and Clarissa are with the children. (full context)
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...and join them. Jean Logan expresses concern about whether she can “meet” this woman, and Clarissa assures her that “it’s all right.” The man, the reader soon learns, is James Reid,... (full context)
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...Jean, Joe concludes that such a “breathless scrambling for forgiveness” is “almost mad.” He catches Clarissa’s eye and exchanges a “half-smile” with her, and though he seems to believe that the... (full context)