Patty of Willendorf

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"...I had this huge crush on Patty Hearst...She was a rich Californian college girl who got kidnapped by these awful left-wing political terrorists, and they made her rob banks...Why did I like her? Ah, I don't know. It's irrational, you know? I guess I kind of knew how she felt, being taken away and forced to do stuff she didn't want to do, and then it seemed like she was kind of enjoying it." (Niffenegger 65)

So Henry had a crush on Patty, a girl who was taken out of her element and forced to do stuff she did not want to do; namely, steal. But was it irrational? No; in fact, I think it made a lot of sense. I immediately thought of the Venus of Willendorf: the paleolithic figurine of a woman who is hefty and appears to be pregnant. This ideal women of the ancient times embodied what was important to society at that time: food, warmth, and fertility. As we emerged from the hunter/gatherer society and became domesticated, Barbie became the ideal woman. Ultimately, what one deems important, or in these cases, essential to survival, he or she will seek in a partner. In one sense, Henry identifies with Patty because she is uprooted against her will and forced to do things she does not want to do, just as Henry time travels and steals money and clothing. On the other hand, Henry admires and probably even envies her supposed enjoyment of robbing. Unfortunately, Henry sometimes has to rob to survive, so I would not think it irrational to like a girl like Patty Hearst; conversely, I would deem it natural and reasonable. I think this is the idea behind the "opposites attract" theory, which may be true for any of us. Perhaps we seek those things in a partner that we lack or hope to acquire from their company, I know I surround myself with people whom I would like to be more like in one way or another, just as Henry would probably like to enjoy what he is forced to do to survive.

http://jerz.setonhill.edu/EL267/2009/04/niffenegger_the_time-travelers/ 

3 Comments

I never thought about this passage that way. People do tend to be attracted to people with qualities that they deem important for survival. But if you think about it, Clare doesn't really have the same things Henry needs for survival. Compared to him, her life is relatively normal in that she doesn't have to constantly steal and find ways to maneuver out of all the strange situations Henry finds himself in. But maybe it's the opposites attract thing; maybe her normality is what helps center Henry's life. Certainly, she has the quality of being patient and being able to put up with all of his disappearances, which would be essential in a partner for Henry. They also can bond over the fact that although Clare doesn't time travel herself, she still has a very strange past in which she has known her adult husband of the future since she was a little girl.

Aja Hannah said:

I think that Clare provides something reliable and predictable. So that when he does time travel and come back he has something to rely on. He says that this is one of his favorite thing...reliability. Maybe that is the survival skill that she has that he wants.

Alicia Campbell said:

I agree and I agree. Henry does speak of the constancy of Clare as something that is very important to him. I also realized, Matt, that Clare does not embody the skills Henry needs to survive. He does get a sense of normalcy and constancy from Clare, which he could arguably get from any other woman. But I also agree that Clare's acceptance of Henry's abnormality and unreliability is what's really admirable. While I do not know any time travelers, I cannot imagine that many woman would be strong enough to date one.

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Alicia Campbell on Patty of Willendorf: I agree and I agree. Henry doe
Aja Hannah on Patty of Willendorf: I think that Clare provides so
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