Thursday, January 24, 2008

Ebbs and Flows

McEwan takes painstaking efforts to illustrate his theme of a constantly expanding and contracting consciousness. Henry Perowne experiences radiating waves of awareness, sometimes living purely in the moment, sometimes contemplating the difficulties of national politics and the impending war. Through the use of careful motifs, McEwan causes Perowne to radiate between his personal life and the overall complexities of society.

Firstly, McEwan uses the protest against the war to consistently bring Perowne’s mind back to the imminent struggle. While on his way to play squash, Perowne’s path is obstructed by the antiwar march. Consequently, he recalls his interactions with Miri Taleb and his distaste for Saddam’s tyranny. Suddenly, Perowne gets into an altercation with Baxter and his cronies and for that instant, Perowne’s entire awareness is in the moment. Upon fleeing from his encounter with Baxter, he continues his journey to the athletic club, once again being reminded of the war by the protestors. Finally, he plays his match with Jay where, “every point is now a drama, a playlet of sudden reversals, and all the seriousness and fury of the game is resumed.”(115) Clearly, all that existed for Perowne was that moment.

Also, Perowne’s relationship with Baxter undergoes many ebbs and flows. Starting with the encounter in the alley and ending with Perowne delicately holding Baxter’s hand, this relationship between two seemingly unrelated characters has an extreme influence on the outcome of Saturday, both directly and indirectly. McEwan, sometimes far too obviously, uses characters and events to create a flux within the main character, Henry Perowne.


Erin Sells said...

"Red Baron"--I will need you to reveal your secret identity in order to give you credit for your posts!

Erin Sells said...

The constant fluctuations of Henry's (and I would hazard to say most human's) consciousnesses is one of the reasons why the 24-hour novel WORKS, I think. If we and our minds and our emotional states and our bodies were more static...well, that wouldn't make for much of a novel!