Enduring Love

Enduring Love Summary and Analysis of Chapters Five and Six


Joe comes home, unsettled by his experience in the library, and finds that Clarissa is out with her newly separated brother. Joe is worried that Parry has been stalking him, maybe to murder him because he is an atheist, and that Parry has called the house again. To distract himself from worrying, Joe decides to start working on his narratives in science article.

Joe’s theory is that the nineteenth-century culture of the leisured amateur along with the period’s dominant artistic form, the novel, created the “anecdotal scientist.” Then, in the twentieth century, science became more difficult and professionalized, moving away from amateur narratives with experimental support towards universities and laboratories with hard-edged theories. In the early 1900s, physicists accepted Einstein’s theory without any evidence because “its integral power was so great, it was too beautiful to resist” (pg. 49). Science began to value form over narrative.

Joe looks over what he has written and is dissatisfied. He realizes how flawed his argument is, comparing life sciences to hard sciences and omitting the narrative sciences of the twentieth century like anthropology and psychoanalysis. He derisively labels his writing as journalism, not science, not truth. He suddenly realizes there is someone behind him and panics, attributing his panic response to evolution. Clarissa is behind him and he embraces her, relaxed and reminded of their love. Clarissa tells him how her brother is leaving his wife and they prepare to sleep. Joe decides to tell her about the phone call tomorrow and reveals that he has unplugged the phone.

Chapter Six begins with Joe waking and describing their apartment building, which resembles the ocean-liner the Queen Mary, while he relaxes on their roof. He thinks about “John Logan and how we had killed him,” going over the events and trying to convince himself that he isn’t guilty (pg. 55). He frames the event as either they killed him or they refused to die with him, resolving to visit Logan’s widow. He debates whether Logan was a hero and they were cowards or they were survivors and Logan was a foolish idiot.

Clarissa sneaks up on Joe and Joe confesses to her Parry’s phone call. Clarissa takes it as a joke, making light of Joe’s “secret gay love affair with a Jesus freak” (pg. 57). Joe explains that he thinks Parry was following him and is afraid, and Clarissa laughs again, calling it “a funny story you’ll be telling your friends” (pg. 58). She prepares to leave for work while Joe continues worrying. As soon as she leaves, Joe gets a phone call.

It’s Parry and he insists that they need to talk. Joe threatens to call the police but he knows it’s an empty threat. Parry promises that if Joe talks to him this once he’ll leave him alone forever. Joe agrees and asks Parry where he is. Parry admits that he is at the end of Joe’s road. Joe is shocked but goes to meet Parry.


The article Joe attempts to write invokes the “stories and storytelling” theme in two ways. The article is about the human urge to create narration and contrasts it with an abstract, formal, and beautiful truth that lies outside of narration. While Joe doesn’t believe the argument in his article, he does believe that truth lies outside narration. The article also invokes “storytelling” because, in writing the article, Joe is telling a story, and a false one at that. Joe realizes that what he is writing isn’t science, only journalism. Joe claims that the article’s merit is its readability, which can be read as how much “sense” the article makes. “Sense” is separated from scientific truth and becomes a human construction.

As a storyteller, a science journalist, Joe constantly does what he disparages in the 19th century “anecdotal scientist.” He creates narratives out of scattered facts. He straddles the division between hard, factual science and soft, interpretive literature. This division is acted out on a larger scale in Clarissa and Joe’s relationship—Joe approaches life with a very rational viewpoint while Clarissa looks at it with an imaginative, interpretive gaze. When Joe straightens the memorial flowers, he finds himself slipping towards irrationality, which threatens his identity.

Joe’s worries about Parry that drive him to write the article foreshadow the development of the novel. Although Clarissa laughs Parry’s actions away as a joke, Joe quickly jumps to the potentially irrational conclusion that Parry is out to kill him. While the reader is currently unsure of Parry’s intentions, Joe’s fears create a mood of unease and apprehension.

Joe’s musings on the roof over his potential visit to Logan’s widow engage the theme of reading. Reading and the idea of personal lenses or worldviews through which we read the world pervade Enduring Love. Joe toggles back and forth between ways to read Logan’s death—as a hero or as an idiot—with the other men being either cowards or survivors. In order for Joe’s good self-image to survive, he needs to see himself as a survivor, not a coward. This directly contrasts how Logan’s widow needs to see Logan, as a fallen hero. The idea of conflicting viewpoints links to the difference between how Joe and Clarissa see Parry and the difference between how Parry and Joe see their relationship. It raises the question of whether there is one true viewpoint.