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The Life of Henry Perowne

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Sally Doe

Professor Smith

ENG 205

11 March 2013

The Life of Henry Perowne

In Ian McEwan's recent novel, Saturday, he constructs a character that embodies the average person in the daily modern world. This character's name is Henry Perowne. He has a successful job, beautiful home, and a nearly perfect family. Although, Henry's superficial appearance is much different than his innermost self. McEwan shows how people lack control in their everyday lives through Henry's struggle with the sequence of events that happened during one Saturday.

Saturday is a post September 11th fiction novel. McEwan used a real life event regarding the war in Iraq throughout his novel that personally affected the fictional character. The novel took place on February 15, 2003, which happened to be the day of the largest anti-war protest ever held in London. "His mind has been troubled since the events of 9/11 and the impending war against Iraq has increased his fears. He feels that his happy and secure life and family in London are threatened by things over which he has no control" (Squidoo). At the anticipated homecoming of his daughter Daisy, differences in opinions stirred up by the protest ended in a heated argument between the two. His opinion of the war is one of the ways in which Henry shows his feeling of lack of control. Henry is seemingly pro-war and Daisy is outraged by this. Henry says to his daughter, "But this is all speculation about the future. Why should I feel any certainty about it? ... It's all about outcomes, and no one knows what they'll be... But the war's going to happen, with or without the UN, whatever any government says or any mass

demonstrations" (McEwan 194). Here, Henry is showing his feeling of unimportance regarding the big picture. He does not feel he has any sort of control over the matter, and finds it pointless that he should even consider having a straight opinion about it.

Another example in the novel was in the morning, when he saw the plane burning across the sky. As he stood there, he examined the possibilities of the outcome of what he was watching. "In an instant, his illusion of intellectual mastery over his surroundings is shattered and the euphoric visions of civic cooperation are replaced by dreadful imaginings of panic and death" (Heller 1). He has a hard time standing there watching this plane's final moments because he has no control over what the final outcome is. As a fellow civilian, he feels he should be doing more than "[observing] catastrophe from a safe distance" (McEwan 15), imagining other civilian's final moments.

Henry Perowne also shows his desire to control during his first confrontation with Baxter. Just as the



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