Enduring Love

Enduring Love Summary and Analysis of Chapters Twenty-One and Twenty-Two


Joe and Johnny drive to a house on the North Downs with seven hundred and fifty pounds, while Johnny lectures Joe on how to do the trade. He tells him never to say gun or bullets, and that the people they're going to meet are unstable “intellectual hippies.” They continue driving while Joe reflects on how Johnny hasn’t changed. They arrive at the house, where a bald man with a hennaed mustached named Steve opens the door. The house reeks of ammonia from a muscular man named Xan mopping the floor and a middle-aged woman is at the stove.

Johnny and Joe sit down with Steve, and Joe cannot help laughing at the “prissy Prussian points” of Steve’s mustache. Joe tries to hold the laughter in, knowing that these people are unstable, but he cannot and runs across the lawn, laughter erupting like a sneeze. He eventually recovers and reenters the house, explaining that he has an ammonia allergy. Xan, Daisy, Johnny, and Steve start trying to analyze him using hippie mystical theories, and when Daisy says his aura is unhappy, he takes it as an opportunity to bring up the gun.

The three inhabitants of the house argue over why they are reluctant to give him the gun, bringing up the issues of money and intentions. When Joe hands over the money, Xan and Steve start wrestling on the floor in a near-deadly embrace. Daisy gives Joe the gun and tells him and Johnny to leave. Johnny is eager to leave. In case something does happen he doesn’t want to be a witness, and so he and Joe hurry out of the house. As Johnny lights up another joint, Joe’s phone rings. It’s Parry, who tells him that he’s at his apartment with Clarissa.

Parry puts Clarissa on the phone, who instructs Joe to come back immediately without telling the police. Joe races home from Surrey, stopping along the way to practice firing the gun. Johnny teaches him some basics, warning him that once he points a gun at someone he’s giving them permission to kill him. Parry then speeds the rest of the way home to London, dropping Johnny off on the way.

Joe arrives at his apartment to find Clarissa facing him on the sofa with Parry facing her. Upon hearing Joe, Parry moves next to Clarissa on the sofa and tells Joe not to come any closer. Parry accuses Joe of ruining his life by refusing to leave him alone. Clarissa tries to reason with Parry but Parry refuses, claiming neither Joe nor Clarissa understands him. Parry reveals that he’s come here to ask Joe something, which Joe probably guesses. Joe bluffs, saying he does know.

Parry takes a deep breath and asks Joe for forgiveness for what he did yesterday. Joe, momentarily stunned, accuses Parry of trying to kill him. Parry admits to planning it, saying he thought that he’d rather have Joe dead than not be with him. Parry then pulls out a knife, which Clarissa tries to protect herself from. The knife is not intended for her, though, and Parry poises it at the edge of his throat. Parry begs Joe to forgive him before he kills himself, and Joe, begging him to put the knife down, fires the gun at Parry’s elbow.

In the aftermath of the gunshot, Joe expects to reconcile with Clarissa, lovingly admitting to each other their mistakes. Instead, the police come and take Joe to jail for possession of an illicit firearm and malicious wounding with intent. An ambulance comes and takes Parry away. Joe spends the night in jail and, eventually, all charges against him are dropped. Clarissa and Joe do not make up and, as Joe sits in the jail cell that night, all he can think of is the look of repulsion on her face when she saw the gun.


Joe’s foray into the world of the hippies is a twisted play on the thread of masculinity running through the novel. Steve, the leader, has a mustache, a normally masculine feature. His, however, is dyed and waxed to “prissy Prussian points” (pg. 194). It is the contrast between his “tough guy” attitude and the femininity of his mustache that sets Joe off on his laughing fit. In contrast to Steve is Xan. Xan has huge, meaty forearms, a clear masculine feature, and yet we first see him mopping the floor. The gun, again a masculine symbol, stands at the center of these characters’ relationship.

Although it would be easy to read Joe’s correct assessment of Parry as a triumph of masculine, rational qualities, this scene asks us to look at the novel differently. Both of the masculinities represented by Steve and Xan are undermined by their actions, and they reach a standstill as they engage in a physical brawl. It is Daisy, instead, who gives Joe the gun, giving him the “masculine” power he seeks. Even that, however, is undermined by Clarissa’s reaction.

While Joe is on the way home, he stops to practice firing the gun. Joe stops to poop, contemplating the how all of biological life works together, from the organisms in the soil to the humans. While this usually calms him, he finds that he “could not believe in the primary significance of these grand cycles” (pg. 207). His grand narrative, Neo-Darwinism, has been destroyed, as he asserts, “We were no longer in the great chain. It was our own complexity that had expelled us from the Garden.” Here is the postmodernism that runs throughout the book turned on Joe’s own private theories. Joe has been skeptical of all other grand narratives so far, but this senseless event shakes his own personal narrative. Like Adam and Eve in the Garden he references, Joe has fallen from the innocence of his own steadfast belief in science. His is disillusioned and realizes the meaninglessness of the world.

The climax of Enduring Love extends from the moment of Parry’s phone call to the instant Parry lies bleeding on the floor from Parry’s gun blast. This is the situation Joe has subconsciously been fearing since realizing Parry’s potential. All of Parry’s and Joe’s actions have foreshadowed and created this moment.

As Joe enters his apartment, he is prepared to take hold of the situation with his gun. He is thrown off, however, by Parry’s actions. Parry asks Joe for forgiveness for trying to kill him yesterday. The action is reminiscent of a worship service and a prayer of confession. Parry’s religion constantly shifts its rules and dogma, with God sometimes allied with Parry and sometimes with Joe. In this case, Parry seems to be begging forgiveness from Joe as God. Baffled by Parry’s request and alienated from his religion, Joe cannot respond.