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Time is a major theme in Ian McEwan's 'The Child In Time'.

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Introduction

English coursework - The Child In Time "Time....is always susceptible to human interpretation. And though time is partly a human fabrication, it is also that from which no parent or child is immune." Time is a major theme in Ian McEwan's 'The Child In Time'. He treats the subject irreverently, 'debunking chronology by the nonlinearity of his narrative.' - Michael Byrne. McEwan uses the setting of Stephen's dull committee as the backdrop for his daydreaming. Even Stephen's thoughts are not choronological, and his daydreams constantly flit between different times, although this could be to emphasise the overall flexibility of time. At first sight, it seems that the loss of Kate will be the central event, but McEwan strays through a wide spectrum of events, including the central one, Stephen's encounter at 'The Bell', to try and explain his feelings. The scene at The Bell also refers to a vivid dream McEwan had, where he walked towards a pub knowing he would find the meaning of his life, knowing he would be terrified, but also needing to go on. This is the most important event in the book, and the most difficult to interpret in terms of the behaviour of time. ...read more.

Middle

'I was inside once for almost two years. Nothing to do, nothing happening, every fucking day the same. And you know what? It went in a flash, my time. It was all over before I knew I was there. So it stands to reason if a lot happens quickly it's going to seem like a long time.' Charles' regression into childhood, although painted as a breakdown by the media, and dismissed by Stephen as he doesn't know how to deal with it, is in fact another trick of time. Charles manipulates it to an extreme, taking his mind backwards. He is 'lost in time' but only within his own invention. Charles seems like he grew up too quickly, shown to us through a picture Thelma described as '..a horrid little picture taken when he was eight....In the photograph Charles looks like a scaled - down version of his father - same suit and tie, the same self - important posture and grown - up expression.' Extravagant descriptions of his early adult life with Thelma provide the suggestion that maybe Charles was 'denied a childhood.' Charles' choices were unlimited, within the realms of his own consciousness. ...read more.

Conclusion

It cannot remain on one straight path in the present. It needs to explore other possibilities to survive; memory is a way of exploring the past, and daydreaming a way of exploring just a few of the infinite possibilities of the future. The mind needs both to remain sane. Even after things happen, the human mind shapes these events to fit in with the time you imagined. The main point of the book is that time is non - linear. Ian McEwan uses his characters to explain his views on time and he contrasts them to show how differently each character interprets that time. It holds utmost control, even though it is not independent. Nobody can ever escape it. Stephen, Julie and Kate couldn't escape time, and Stephen 'was to make efforts to re - enter this moment, to burrow his way back through the folds between events, crawl beneath the covers, and reverse his decision' but, as Thelma said, 'Time - not necessarily as it is, for who knows that, but as thought has constituted it - monomaniacally forbids second chances.' Acknowledgements Time and the Child - Michael Byrne - The Antigonish Review www.antigonishreview.com/bi-123/123-mbyrne.html He Turned Around and She Was Gone - Rebecca Goldstein - The New York Times Back to the Future - Author Unavailable - Publisher Unavailable Emma Warburton - The Guardian newspaper ...read more.

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