At first glance, Jed seems to be harmlessly in love with Joe and although we see that in chapter eleven his love is more fantasy than reality, the reader struggles to grasp just how dangerous Parry could be. It is only until Jed feels truly rejected by Joe that he allows himself to feel and anger and coupled with his volatile mental state could cause some serious damage.After constant rejection from Joe that Jed misinterprets as simply trials from God, he is left with a bitterness that he tries to conceal beneath a biblical hatred, a wrath of sorts. Jed says in a letter to Joe that he “wanted to hurt [Joe]” for his denial of a God. This suggests to readers just how unstable Jed is; he has a severe mental illness and has hinted at suffering depression and loneliness throughout his life, therefore all he has to cling on to is the unconditional love of his personal God. At a time of high stress and anxiety, Jed transferred some of this love on to Joe and so the obsession began.
God is Jed’s single lifeline as he has no friends or family, so when this is threatened by Joe’s beliefs he reacts violently and angrily. This shocks readers because up until this point Jed has maintained a bewildered, yet loving stance, promising that Jed and Joe can work through and resolve any differences so this sudden violent outburst comes as an unexpected surprise. Parry also writes that “God will forgive [him]” for any violence towards Joe in His name. This suggests to the reader that Jed feels a strong connection to his own God and, because of constant comparison between himself and God, translates his own pain at Joe’s rejection to pain for his religion; he isn’t saying that any deity will forgive him, he is saying that he will forgive himself if he strikes out which readers find deeply troubling.
McEwan makes it very clear that Jed Parry has a very deluded world view, so by showing him to have such vivid power (within his own mind) suggests that Parry is capable of inflicting harm onto Joe.Later in the chapter, Jed claims compassion for Joe’s position and offers him the chance to “take a swing at [him]” which shows how dedicated he is to the obsession. This alone would suggest how willing Jed is to persuade Joe to leave Clarissa if it wasn’t followed by the ominous “- if you dare”. This instantly darkens the sentence as is suggests that Joe should have legitimate reason to fear Jed, or that if he doesn’t already, he should. This phrase is very ambiguous on McEwan’s part as it could mean several things; that Jed is planning on hurting Joe, that Jed has ‘the wrath of God’ behind him or even that Jed’s threats have depth. Regardless, all interpretations point in the same direction: Jed’s obsession to Joe is dangerous.
McEwan uses religious imagery and references to Jed’s mental state in order to create the impression that Parry has become hostile and dangerous as the book progressed. By mixing the two, McEwan creates a complex world view that credits everything to an all powerful God that Parry claims to have connection to. Subtle changes in wording lead on to full-on threats and by using the stark contrast of proclamations of love and hatred, McEwan creates the impression of a very volatile and imbalanced individual who is dangerous to be around.