Enduring Love

Enduring Love Summary and Analysis of Chapters Fifteen and Sixteen


While Joe drives back from the Logans' house, he passes the field where the accident happened and imagines John Logan’s lover’s reaction. He gets out of the car and starts walking across the field, retracing the steps he and Clarissa took, reminiscing about their innocence and happiness. Comparing his journey to the Stations of the Cross, Joe stands in the middle of the field, imagining Clarissa, John and Jean Logan, the unknown mistress, Parry, and de Clérambault approaching him from all sides to accuse him of a “lack.” Fascinated with de Clérambault, Joe posits that de Clérambault’s syndrome is just a dark, twisted mirror that parodies bright, real love, where reckless abandon is beautiful and sane.

Joe arrives back in London to find Parry waiting outside of his apartment, trying to give him another letter. Joe finally acknowledges him and Parry explains that he read all of Joe’s articles. Parry is clearly upset, saying that no matter what Joe does, he can’t take away what Parry has. Then Parry explains that he is wealthy and can get people to do anything he wants, a vaguely threatening statement. Joe brushes him aside and tries to go into the house.

Inside the building, Joe wonders if Parry was threatening him. As he enters the apartment, he senses that Clarissa is back and that something is wrong. He searches all over the apartment and eventually finds her in his study, slumped over in his chair. She has realized that Joe rifled through her desk and is angry and hurt. She reminds Joe that he left the drawer open as a “message” to her, except she cannot understand it.

Chapter Sixteen is another letter from Parry, who relates his experience reading thirty-five of Joe’s articles he hired a student to find and photocopy. Parry compares the experience to torture, feeling as if Joe were deliberately trying to hurt, insult, and test him. Parry cites Joe’s article on carbon dating the Turin Shroud, countering that faith doesn’t rely on a piece of rotting cloth. He also references Joe’s article presenting God as a literary character, dreamt up by a Hittite woman in 1000 BC. Parry prays furiously to still be able to love Joe despite all this.

Parry criticizes Joe’s self-reliant arrogance and willful dismissal of God, telling him how he failed to find any messages from Joe today. Countering Joe’s imaginary retort that Parry hates science, Parry explains that he really views science as an “extended prayer.” For Parry, studying the intricacies of nature only helps us realize how mighty God is. Parry pleads Joe to give up his denial of god and the “cry of loneliness” it produces.

Parry becomes more forceful in his words, claiming that his love, which is also God’s love, is coming to deliver Joe from meaninglessness. Parry explains how enraged he felt coming over, seeing that Joe not only denied God but wanted to take his place. Parry criticizes the fact that in four years not once did Joe write about love or faith. He then backs down, positing that perhaps he’s so angry because he’s impatient to start his life with Joe. Finally, Parry explains that though the transition Joe must undertake will be rough and painful, Joe must never ignore Parry or pretend their relationship doesn’t exist. Parry explains, “Accept me, and you’ll find yourself accepting God without a thought.”


In Chapter Fifteen Joe finally returns to the scene of the accident, comparing it to his “Stations of the Cross,” a religious devotion where the faithful travel through fourteen stations of crosses, saying prayers at each one. Each station represents a different part of Jesus’s crucifixion, and the process is meant to express penitence and engage with Christ’s suffering. It is strange that Joe compares his return to a strongly religious concept since he is so clearly an atheist. In this metaphor, John Logan becomes like a sacrificial Christ figure, dying to save Joe and that little boy. This “meaningless” event then takes on significance as religious sacrifice.

Joe’s meditations on de Clérambault’s syndrome try to unearth the true meaning of love. Jed Parry’s de Clérambault’s syndrome again works as a foil to Joe and Clarissa’s love. Parry’s words evoke traditional love sentiments, yet to Joe they seem nightmarish and wrong.

Clarissa and Parry are again presented as foils when Joe arrives back at their apartment. Clarissa has discovered his trespassing and claims that he “even left the drawer open so I’d know when I came in. It’s a statement, a message… the trouble is, I don’t know what it means.” Like Parry, Clarissa is seeing subtle messages from Joe everywhere, interpreting his actions. Unlike Parry, Clarissa’s suspicions are more rational and based on reality.

Parry’s letter to Joe engages with the struggle between rational atheism and religious belief that runs throughout Enduring Love. For Joe, everything must be factual, based in scientific truth. Parry mocks this viewpoint when he asks Joe if Joe really thought that faith was based on the truth of a “length of rotting cloth”—the Shroud of Turin, the supposed burial cloth of Christ (pg. 134). Parry points out the limits of Joe’s viewpoint. However, Parry is a very unreliable narrator, and, as a result, his words should often be discounted. Parry’s staunch support of religion calls into question religious belief, taking Parry’s instability into account.

In his letter, Parry makes constant comparisons between his love and God’s love, drawing the parallel comparison between himself and God. Additionally, Parry claims that the purpose of his love is deliver Joe from “meaninglessness,” something that every single character in the book is trying to do. For Parry, the way to escape the “meaningless” of both Logan’s death and Parry’s life is to create a religious narrative of salvation.