How Is Chapter Nine A Suitable Ending For Mc Ewan's A Child In Time?

1368 words - 5 pages

I think that McEwan has written a very effective conclusion to the novel, despite what many critics have said about it being too "tidy". These critics have suggested that in particular McEwan's skeleton of nine chapters is too schematic. However, I think that this shows a good way to represent not only the nine month period over which Julie and Stephen's new child is growing, but also the time during which Stephen has developed and grown himself, accepting his childhood and the grief that almost kept him suspended in time.The initial Childcare Handbook quote is the first vaguely positive view of childhood that we have seen in the book from the government."More than coal, even more than nuclear power, children are our greatest resource." (P. 205)We immediately assume that McEwan is suggesting economics because of the way he has taught us to read the Handbook. Despite this, he has also taught us to put these excerpts into the context of family. If we heard this quote from another source would we see it as a more caring statement? We can also relate Charles Darke back to this in that he was stuck between adulthood and childhood. McEwan is telling us that if children are deprived of childhood then they will not be a useful resource --just like Charles -- even the non-financial type of resource that he prefers to see children as.The train journey that Stephen embarks on up to Julie's house is a significant moment in the chapter. As well as fulfilling his childhood dream of riding a train, the journey can be taken as a metaphor, propelling Stephen towards his wife and leaving behind the problems of the city. It could be noted that the city was also where Kate went missing. The train is described in a comfortable way:"The floor vibrated pleasantly under his feet." (P. 207)This is in direct contrast to the London Underground trains that he described as being cramped and overcrowded, giving an almost claustrophobic air to the city. This could be because the train out of London is, in a way, setting him free from the city's inhibitions, at least for a while.McEwan manages to increase the speed of the passage by using shorter sentences while Stephen is running. He also uses a mix of past and present tenses."For one last moment he savoured the pent energy of altitude before tilting forwards and letting the hill draw him down and fix his pace, a near effortless sprint across the snow." (P. 210)This technique gives us a sense of Stephen dipping in and out of time, as he has been doing throughout the novel. Again, this is reinstated when The Bell comes into view."He had a premonition followed instantly by a certainty..." (P. 211)The Bell was where Stephen's parents discussed aborting him. This brief but very vivid echo makes it seem as though Stephen is rushing to get out of the past he has been stuck in and into a new life with Julie. Julie, as she later explains, thought about an abortion too and it is not a coincidence that McEwan has decided to place both...

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