Dualism

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"In general, flying is freedom, we might say, freedom from not only from specific circumstances but from those more general burdens that tie us down." (Foster 127).

I used this quote from Foster in the attempt to make sense of Henry in The Time Traveler's Wife, whose time traveling I would consider flying. Henry's "flying" or materializing can definitely be considered liberating. Henry usually takes flight when he is stressed, and he often goes to an earlier, less threatening point in his past. This made me think of a computer's system recovery function: when the system fails, you simply restore it to a point earlier in time when it was working properly. For instance, at one point in the story, Henry and Clare are having problems in the present, and it is January. Henry time travels to a point in the past at which he and Clare are getting along great, and it is summer. On the other hand, I can also see Henry's flying as debilitating. It obviously affects his ability to function; for example, he cannot drive or watch television. He has no control over his departure. Or is Henry's flying both freeing and crippling? Is it liberating for Henry, who gets to leave when he and Clare are having problems, avoiding their problems? And is it debilitating for Clare, who is the one that stays and is left not only with whatever problems she and Henry were having, but also the worry that comes with wondering where and how Henry is while he is gone? At one point in the story, Clare even says, "...I am his prisoner..."  Is Henry's flight freedom or confinement? What do you think?

http://jerz.setonhill.edu/EL267/2009/04/foster_ch_15-17/

4 Comments

Aja Hannah said:

Well, his flying doesn't always let him be free or go to a stress free time. In the book, it actually says that he frequently shows up at his mother's death. Or he gets beat up. Or he gets caught stealing.

In the book, it also mentions how complete freedom was chaos and that's kind of what his life and time-traveling is like. I think its definitely confinement for Clare, but not for Henry. For Henry, it's freedom, but not in a positive sense either.

Chelsie Bitner said:

I would have to agree with Aja. I think it is freedom for Henry but not a good freedom. Clare is confined because she doesn't go outside of her life with Henry. From age 6 she is pretty much tied to him. I think that when he time-travels from his stressful sitations to less stressful situations he calms down then goes back. When he arrives at the time with his mom I think that makes him realize how far he has come in his life. Remembering his mom and being able to see her could calm him down. Flight is connected with freedom and Henry has that even though he really does not want it.

Alicia Campbell said:

I see what you both mean. He is free from the confinements of time to which everyone around him is subjected; however, they take this for granted. While Henry often does escape stressful situations, your comments reminded me that he does not always end up safe and sound, clothed and fed. He mentions that loud noises and flashing lights can cause him to time travel as well, regardless of the stress level. Ultimately, I suppose whether Henry's time traveling would be considered liberating or debilitating is dependent on the circumstances. I would also say that both Henry and Clare are prisoners of Henry's "condition".

Jennifer Prex said:

Though it does have freeing elements, I think it is mostly a confinement. He doesn't have control over it. Not only that, because so much of his future takes place in the past, he also doesn't have much control over his own life. He knows he when and how he is going to die, but he can't do anything to stop it, because it already happened in the past.

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