The Time Travelers Wife is a love story between a man and a woman who encounter many hardships throughout their life. Through this book and the author’s interview a sense of true love is shown. This novel shows the significance of love and how two people are able to have a relationship when one is not always physically around. It also shows how love can have many ups and downs and that marriages aren’t always perfect. The main characters throughout the story are Henry, Clare, and their daughter Alba.
Henry is a time traveler that has no control on what time period or event he might encounter in any given moment (Shmoop Editorial Team). Clare is his wife in the near future who has to wait for him to come at any time and there are times when Henry does not know who she is showing how she must be patient. Throughout this novel time keeps changing going from past, present, to future, and vice versa which causes the reader to become confused at first but then fully understand the reasoning behind why it is like that and how true love comes into place.
The novel by Audrey Niffeneger is divided into three parts which is “The man out of time,” “A drop of blood in a bowl of mild,” and “A treatise on longing. ” All these parts are coordinated to go in order to show Clare’s life although this is disrupted by the fact that each chapter has a different time and setting meaning that “A drop of Blood,” could show Clare’s midlife, but at the same time there can be a point in which she is eight years old (Niffenegger).
The reason why the story is set up like this is because Niffenegger wanted things to be random but it was her way of detouring what was happening within the story and have a comprehensive ending (Bond 2003). For example, if she wanted Henry to have little information on Clare she would make Henry younger to display his knowledge (Bond 2003). Which is how the book starts by making Henry 28 year’s old and making Clare 20 years old in which Clare knows who he is but Henry does not because his present self has not met her yet (Niffenegger, 7).
Henry does not have the capability of changing things that have already happened or might happen which is hard when it comes to people’s deaths and the hardships they encounter throughout their lives. Although it does go back and forth like a movie in which you keep rewinding, it is very detailed and expressive in the fact that theit love stays strong through all. The first part of the book which is “The man out of Time” starts by Henry meeting Clare for the first time, but Clare on the other hand knows who he is since she met him at the age of six.
Here it is discovered that there are many times in which they both meet and Henry has no idea who she is but she does. As it states saying, “It’s because for you none of it has happened yet, but for me, well I’ve known you for a long time (Niffenegger 7). ” This shows the patience that Clare has for him as she reenacts first dates and tries not acting like she knows everything about him although she kind of does. Then after that it talks about Henry’s first time traveling and the death of his mother in which he was supposed to die but he did not due to his traveling disorder.
The first encounter that Clare ever has with Henry is when she is six and Henry is thirty-six here Clare hears something in the woods and is a little scared by his presence and throws a shoe at him but gets over it as he starts explaining himself. They talk for a while and Henry asks her to bring him clothes when he comes to visit again since he is not allowed to bring anything as he time travels. While he is doing this he seems to have this sense of love that he feels for her although she is so young.
Then when Clare is about 12 she plays the Ouija board with her friends and she finds out that Henry is her husband but at that time she doesn’t understand but feels a sense of hope in that she will be with him in the near future (Niffenegger 61). A couple months later Clare sees Henry at the age of thirty-six and they talk about their crushes and while this is happening everything is in Henry’s perspective. “Clare looks up, smiling mischievously.
“Who do you like? ” You, I think but don’t say (Niffenegger 63). Here the patience of Henry is shown because he knows that when she grows up he will be with her and he currently loves her but he can’t tell her that or things could change and she is also to young. Then later on Audrey demonstrates how Clare is starting to go through her teenage years and the way she is dealing with the fact that she loves Henry even though he is so much older then her. There is a part in the book where Clare decides to go on a date because she is tired of hearing her friends and people say that she might be lesbian given the fact that she never goes out with boys.
So she then decides to go out with a football player who has asked her out on a date but unfortunately he beats her up and burnes her with a cigarette because he says that she just “played” with him and lead him on. She is so angry at the fact that this has happened and she asks Henry to do her a favor and beat someone up. He asks who and she does not want to tell him until she gives in and explains what had happened. In the future Henry had time traveled and had seen a mark on Clare’s back and never knew what and how she got it since she never told him but that day he was able to understand why.
Here the theme of love and time is shown because Henry is sometimes in the future and is not aware of certain things but when he travels to the past he discovers new things and through all of this Henry is able to make things work out (Modern Literature, 2016). Another great example of love is when Henry finally asks Clare to marry him and although she is very happy she had also already knew this was going to happen since she met Henry at a really young age and had also been told by the Ouija displaying how this was basically her fate or bound to happen.
After that they end up getting married and Clare encounters a Henry from her present and past but everything goes well and the second part of the book begins. Correspondingly the second part of the book begins “A drop of blood in a bowl of milk’” which is in fact one of the major climax points since many things happen as they grow as a married couple. In the beginning they start living together in a small complex apartment and they start to see their differences such as their taste in music and enjoyments.
Henry starts to see that Clare worries about him greatly do to his frequent absences and he also sees that she feels trapped since the apartment is so small and she cannot fully express here artist work. So then Henry decides to mess with the future and writes down the number of the winning lottery ticket and he gives it to Clare who is mad at the fact that he did that but slowly forgives him as he convinces her that she needs a bigger space to run freely and express her art.
They then start looking for a new home and Clare is very detailed as they look at new houses while Henry just goes straight to the backyard and says no to almost all the places they see and she does not understand why he is being like that but still supports him (Niffenegger 286). He then explains that his present self-had time traveled to the future and had seen this place which looked like their home as he states, “… over the backyard into the window of a brick building which seemed to be your studio (Niffenegger 287). After that Clare gains a sense of understanding and although she still wants to get a real experience in looking for houses she stops since Henry had already been there (Modern Literature, 2016). Once they find the house and are living in it Clare starts to wish for a child do to Henry’s continuous absences (Shmoop Editorial Team). As this is happening Henry is trying to convince Doctor Kendrick ,who is his future doctor that he is a time traveler and he must help him but he does not believe him till he sees Henry disappear right before him.
Then two years later Clare and Henry finally decide to actually try having a baby although Henry is not really optimistic about it. As this is all happening Clare comes to a realization that she will always have this emptiness “My body wanted a baby. I felt empty and I wanted to be full. I wanted someone to love who would stay: stay and be there, always (Niffenegger, 321). ” Clare then unfortunately encounters six miscarriages due to the fact that the babies are able to time travel showing that Henry’s disorder is hereditary.
During this time, they seem to have a lot of anger against each other and fight very frequently so one-night Henry says that he is tired of Clare and decides to drive in which he has never done, “I take Clare’s keys from her purse, and I put on my shoes (Niffenegger, 345). Weeks later Henry time travels again and sees their future baby Alba but as he returns to the present his doctor finds out that if Clare where to have another miscarriage she would die. Henry then takes it upon himself to get a vasectomy to stop Clare from having another miscarriage which could probably lead to her death even though he had seen their daughter in the future.
Although he does this to prevent Clare from getting pregnant a younger him comes to their present and ends up getting Clare pregnant once more. Clare is now two weeks away from her delivery date and Henry is time traveling as usual but this time he sees older Alba at the age of ten and he finds out very shocking news. When he sees here he is in love with her but as they start talking he finds out that she herself is a time traveler as he states , “You time travel” and she express how she enjoys it because she is able to see him and her grandma (Niffenegger 385).
As she is telling this to Henry she accidently tells him that he died when she was only five years old and that after that he rarely came to visit Clare. Then as this is happening the teacher calls Clare because she doesn’t believe that the man with Alba is her father since he was pronounced dead a long time ago. She then speaks to Henry on the phone and tells him to stay there because she is on her way to see him but as she starts getting there he starts feeling like he is going to time travel and yells, “I love you,” and disappears.
Here it is shown how Neiffenegger puts a lot of stress on Henry because he knows many things about their future and he must keep this all to himself for Clare’s sake since he does not want to bring stress to her. As Kaufman states, “Niffenegger inextricably binds these themes to a heart-wrenching love story whose course and ending are predestined, yet so compelling, that we keep hoping for some intervention (Kaufman 2013). ” Meaning that this story has many problems in which one individual knows all and the other does not keeping the reader tied down in hope for an intervention as soon as possible.
Later on in the story it is December 31, 2006 and a very unfortunate event happens. Here everyone who has been through all the ups and downs between Clare and Henry are present to celebrate New Year’s Eve but little do they know that this will be the last time they see Henry. That night Henry says goodbye to everyone and right before he disappears he kisses Clare one last time. Lastly in the third part of the book A Treatise of Longing there is a sense of clarification since everything comes to an end. During this part of the book we are able to see Clare’s life without Henry since the time of his death.
Henry is not able to time travel during Clare’s present but rather can travel to see his daughter Alba and as this is happening he comes to realization that he won’t be able to see Clare so he writes her a note saying that she must no longer wait for him and just move on (Neffinegger 514). Then when Clare is 82 years old Henry comes to see her once more and the book comes to an end. The whole story itself has many hardships which are encountered evenly throughout the book illustrating that love is not always perfect and problems might emerge here and there.
There were times in which one individual knew something that could hurt the other so they would keep it to themselves till there was a right time to say it. This shows how there must sometimes be problems in order to come out stronger as Walter states, “Henry may sometimes find himself at war with the laws of space and time, but at heart he has a “fanatical dedication to living like a normal person (Walter 2004). ” Demonstrating that Henry keeps many things to himself for Clare’s sake for the fact that she already has many problems.