A Boxed Bird

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"He made the boxes because he was lonely. He didn't have anyone to love, and he made the boxes so he could love them, and so people would know that he existed, and because birds are free and the boxes are hiding places for the birds so they will feel safe, and he wanted to be free and be safe.  The boxes are for him so he can be a bird." The Time Traveler's Wife, Audrey Niffenegger (386-387)

Originally I'd never heard of Cornell's Aviary boxes; I found some photographs of them online--they have a particular beauty about them--along with some information about Joseph Cornell, as well.  I looked because it's always nice to have a visual and because of the somber depiction by Alba, but that isn't why I picked this quote.
Things with wings seem to be special to the DeTambles.  Clare makes paper birds (and later wings for Henry).  Henry as a child falls in love with a bird book, Birds of America.  And not to be forgotten is, Papiliio Ulysses, a blue butterfly Henry remembers giving him a feeling only Clare has ever reproduced. (22).
The words Alba spoke seem to represent her father as much as they do Cornell. What would appear to be a freedom, time travel, actually holds Henry captive--like a caged bird. When he jumps throughout time he is never secure and often alone.  All of this makes him question his existence and dream about being free in the present.

2 Comments

NikitaMcClellan said:

Very intersting point. I never thought about it that way. In a way, Henry and the artist can relate. They both feel trapped. It is interesting to think of time travel in a confining way when it is usually shown as a way to be free from time and move forward or backward to where ever one desires. But with Henry, there is no such luck. He simply has to put up with where the travel takes him and when it will take him there.

Jennifer Prex said:

This is an interesting concept and very ironic. You're right, you would think that his ability to time travel would make him free, but, as you said, he is actually held captive by this ability. He has no control over where he time travels or when he does or for how long. His future is set, because much of it happens in the past. Free will has a different meaning for him than it does for most, because while he does have it, it is inhibited by all of what is in his past or the past in general, which cannot change.

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Jennifer Prex on A Boxed Bird: This is an interesting concept
NikitaMcClellan on A Boxed Bird: Very intersting point. I never
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