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The Future isn't Set in Stone

"In the past I feel much more solid. Maybe the future itself is less substantial? I don't know. I always feel like I'm breathing thin air, out there in the future. That's one of the ways I can tell it is the future: it feels different."
~page 167 of Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife

It makes sense that the future would be less substantial, as it technically hasn't happened yet. With the way time works in this novel, however, I guess that rule doesn't necessarily apply to everything. Much of Henry's future actually takes place in the past--including his death. Therein may lie the confusing answer. His future is set because it has already happened in the past. The future itself isn't set, because it hasn't happened yet. If the future isn't set in stone yet, then it wouldn't be as clear as the past. The future could change, whereas the past can't.

Comments (5)

Christopher Dufalla:

Thinking about this point almost makes one's head hurt: the future is in the past. Henry faces an interesting dillema: life is happening in places that it's already happened and vice versa.

The fact that Henry has to face the future in his past is difficult to perceive, but destiny appears to have thrown him an interesting fate.

The future is an experience that one must constantly face in the real world, but in the fictional world of Henry, he does not have the linear view of life, but instead, he has a jumbled squiggle view of time.

I'm not so certain Henry can change his future. It's as if all he really can do is follow the course outlined. At any given moment, all three Henrys (Past, Present, and Future) are going about their lives. Henry is carful not to disturb that design and when he has attempted to change something he could do nothing. I agree thinking like this invites a migraine. Rosalind Blair's blog also had something to say about the subject of Free Will and Determinism.

Alyssa Sanow:

I agree that thinking about this definitely makes one's head hurt...especially after it is banged against the wall. In my interpretation, there are aspects of Henry and Clare's future that are set in stone and aspects that are not. If, for example, it happens in the past like his frost bite and amputation, then they have no hope to alter it. It is only Henry that is able to understand and accept this. If it hasn't happened in the past, then the future is theirs to create!

I agree with you, this took a while for me to grasp as well, like how he had the baby's birth certificate in '99 and knew all about him, even when the doctors said it would be a girl, and wowed the doctor.
it's mind-boggling, but I think this is one reason this book kept me so interested.

Nikita McClellan:

It is onne confusing time warp and Henry has not control over any of it. Even though he knows that it is going to happen, he cannot stop it. It is like fate. No one can change fate. No matter how much he tries to change something, the same outcome will happen.

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