THEME: FREE WILL Vs. DESTINY
After reading the book the best theme that I understand is the conflict it has shown between free will & destiny. It is a topic of confusion in almost every human beings life. The desire of changing the future according to our free will or depending on destiny is a thought that comes in every individual's mind. The Time Traveller's Wife similarly explores determinism versus free will. Determinism is the idea that our lives are predetermined & freewill implies the idea that our choices can largely influence as well as change our future. In the story we see that Henry (the time traveller) feels trapped, when he realises that he can travel time & is aware of what is going to happen in his future. Clare his wife feels torn because of the confusion of embracing or rejecting the determinism of her life. On one hand she enjoys the fact that she will be with Henry in the future & on the other hand she rebels against the prediction made by Henry about her future baby.
Some philosopher's point of view says that, the idea of limited free will is quite acceptable but not completely. Startre, one of the well known philosophers opposes the idea of complete free will. Since human beings are conscious creatures & they possess conscious intensions, they are inherently under control of their own decisions. But there are other multiple number of factors in this world related to their lives which are not under their control & thus they are not able to possess complete free will. Determinism on the other hand opposes this idea & according to it, there are some psychological impairments that are there on an individual's mind while he is taking any decision. One of the other known philosopher named St. Thomas Aquinas says that the sole cause of all human endeavours is determinism. Idea of free will is discarded by him as well as many other philosophers. They say that everything is predetermined because there is God. Although it appears that a human being is carrying out some activity or is taking some decision in his life, but actually the only one responsible behind it is God. He has pre planned everything & human beings are just there to carry out his pre planned happenings in this world. And when it comes to willingness, that a human being will take a decision out of his free will whenever he wishes & in whichever way. Then the fact is that God is the one to control human being's willingness also.
Many other instances we can see in the story which reveals that the characters of this story Henry & Clare are constantly going through the confusions of embracing or discarding the destiny. Although they come to know about their future, they cannot change it how much ever they may try. For instance, in one of his time travel Henry tried to save a girl many times & every time he tried this he had to witness her death every time, once again totally helpless. Here we see him realise that by knowing the future also all you can do is accept it, because it is a fact of life that future is predetermined.
In one other scene we see older Henry talking to younger Henry & explaining him that since he has already lived his past, now he can't change it even if he moves back to that time again because those days are already lived. This means that they don't have any free will even when hopping back to the future times or the past times. So all they can do is to choose how you want to live your life in your present.
Once Henry was interrogated by youthful Clare about the existence of almighty and human being's free will. But Henry was quiet and did not give any answer to her curious questions, as he knows that at such an age Clare believes on miracles and prayers that come to those who pray to almighty & in coming years her belief will change from God to determinism. After some more years she will start believing that in this erratic world there is no one to listen to her prayers & if there is any super power who exists or not. Knowing that, even after travelling time & knowing everything nothing can be avoided or stopped, her views changes. Previously she was like any other kid who is taught by her family to go to church & pray, who was full of wonderment knowing that almighty always listens to those who pray wholeheartedly. But later on knowing about Henry's death she starts caring allot for him & thus she keeps worrying.
Once when Henry time travels, an older version of his explains Henry that even after knowing everything about your future & past through time travel, it's better to focus on a particular purpose in life. Because life without purpose is of no use. It might have happened that after knowing the future Henry would have become careless & mislead thinking that what is destined it will make itself happen in any way. So this guidance was extremely necessary in Henry's life so that he starts believing in the present. Older Henry suggests that if a person doesn't take responsibility of his actions in present then he won't be able to have any control in his life & thus his life will become meaningless. He believes that the only key to happiness is to have a purpose in your life.
Seeing the condition of Henry I feel that it's good that we don't know our futures. Because knowing the future, and past will leave us feel like a victim and nothing else. The same feeling I see in Henry's mind.
On the other side sometimes the ambivalent feelings of Henry about time travelling gives him joy also. We see it when Henry tells Clare about his past crush on a rich girl living in California named Parry Hearst. She was kidnapped by some people & they forced her to rob banks & do many other kinds of nuisance. Previously Henry felt that he knew how miserable she must be feeling but later he realised that she was kind of enjoying doing these activities. So he feels relaxed over his choice & moves on.
Clare was raised in a catholic family, therefore the idea of one acting according to own will & God's will appeared like a sin to her. To help Clare move out of this disgust feelings about free will vs. determinism Henry very politely explains her everything. Asks her to understand his own condition, which was miserable because of this time hopping. He couldn't help anyone, neither could he change anything even when he was then & there watching everything going on in front of him. Henry already had experienced his future but he couldn't change anything with a free will because that was impossible. Future cannot be altered according to one's own will.
Gomez once warned Clare about Henry & his wrong behaviour many times. But Clare never blamed Henry for it. Neither she regret on her choice for spending her life with Henry. Because in a way she believes that although choosing Henry was her own will. They fell in love was with their own will & not forced by someone. Clare believed that although these happenings were under their control but was actually predetermined by God. This just appeared to be their decision to the world but it was actually planned to happen by God. She later muses saying that making a decision which involves no choice can't be wrong.
Henry makes a rule that they will not tell anyone about their future because it's really disturbing to accept sometimes that we live in a world where everything is pre planned. All our efforts & everything are just to carry out our life, what is actually planned will surely happen whatever may happen but it cannot be stopped. And this rule made by Henry was mainly to let people avoid the pain of knowing where their lives will take them. living in present only, was the best according to Henry.
This story gives us many evidences which teach us that believing in past or future both are unreasonable. So best is to live in the present. Because even if you come to know about your past you can't change it as that part of your life is already lived. And knowing the future also you can't change it because that is already determined. All a person can do is to modify the way to accept the future happily in all its ways. The theme of free will vs. determinism is interestingly very important to be understood. Many times it happens that people out of their frustration think about changing the time be it future or past. But it's better to understand from this story that knowing either past or future, both are not so important. Living in the present & enjoying life with whatever comes with it is the best option. Secondly this is also not good that a person should stop trying everything because of the fact that everything is predetermined & our wills are also controlled by God. Because the things planned are not certain the way it comes to our life may be determined by our actions. Dying in pain, knowing that someday I have to die so let me not do anything & simply wait for it is a waste of life. I don't know whether there is God or not, if everything is pre planned or not. But all I know is there are several things that affect our daily lives & our daily actions so we can't change everything according to our will. Knowing the past or future is of no interest as all we can do is try to modify our present in the best way & prepare for welcoming our future in the best way. This is the way of living.
[1 ] E-BOOK : http://www.google.co.in/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CCwQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fscroogereads.files.wordpress.com%2F2012%2F03%2Ftime-travellers wife.pdf&ei=JFxwU4SxOcnj8AWow4HQAQ&usg=AFQjCNFhVdHTSsTCuFGfCN3Ftu59fU0fvw&sig2=4rTEkKHMwKMrgTC-l3uPIA&bvm=bv.66330100,d.dGc