Analysis of the Novel Time and Again by Jack Finney
Time and Again is a novel written by Jack Finney that manifests what preservation is when it comes to the history of places. The Main character, Simon Morley, returns to 1882 New York City. He wanders through the New York World and the old City Hall Post Office as well as Gramercy Park. This depicts historical adventure that leads to wishful thinking of ways in which one can turn out to be Si. He sees the world exactly as it was one may think that a day had not passes after the happenings he goes back to investigate. He is involved in investigating secret projects of the U. S government that were conceived by Danziger. He, therefore, travels back in time to prove the fact that the past, present and future exist on a perceptual basis. Danziger argues that there exists a New York City that has a past that remains today, and today which makes the future and the only difference is, therefore, lying in time. The story, therefore, illuminates how things and places may be constant and that it is only people who don’t.
Si has a couple of assignments to do. He goes on a secret government mission for he has been recruited to do. He has another reason as to why he should accept this mission to travel back in time. He wants to go and solve a mystery that is surrounding his girlfriend Kate. With her is a letter that is dated 1882 which is mailed to Andrew Carmody. He wants to unravel the mystery behind their purported meeting to discuss marble and some other missing links to information about the destruction of the whole world by fire. This sets the pace for the intrigues that go on in the story. Si has an agenda that he wants to accomplish aside from carrying out the duties he has been employed to do. It is this side agenda that gives the story a lot of importance because this marks as the adventure that propels the story. He travels through time to find love, things that interest him and above all he has an adventure in all this.
The story begins, of a man who is an artist doing sketches and advertisements. But before this he had done his military service but then he acknowledges that this was not enough because there was a big gaping hole inside of him. His prior experience in the military sees him recruited in the secret government agency. Perhaps this would fill the gaping hole and make his life interesting and complete. Then he has to go back in time. But before this he has to undergo intense training where he is taught about manners of the past, history as well as the attitudes of the people who lived in the past. These are some of the skills that he needed to accomplish his mission of going back in time. He carries out one visit after another to investigate different incidents and eventually he goes on the one that he investigates his past by investigating his girlfriend.
When the novel Time and again is compared to another travel time novels like The Time Machine, there are a few notable differences that can be deduced. For instance, in Time and Again, there are no machines involved. In fact, it happens as if this goes on in his thoughts. All that all that happens, take place as if it is real time and real world happenings. In The Time Machine, the Time Traveler had to use a table top model machine. This machine is capable of carrying a person to a period of interest and then after one week the machine returns to give the remarkable tale of their experience. Again, the difference between the two can be seen through the target places where the travels take place. Seemingly the Time Machine, travels are made through solid rock whereas Si travels in real life and also in thoughts and space. Different authors of time travel novels took different perspectives about the travels were done by the persons involved as seen in these two examples.
At one point, Si goes into a small antique shop which is owned by Kate. He reflects on how they met. In the shop, there are lots of old photographs. These photographs are said to be very detailed and have a lot to tell about the past. These photographs just tell a story that goes back to history and could be these photographs help bring out the theme of the past being brought to the present. The photos are snapshots of life in the past, a life that was ever lived which has been brought to the present. Just the same way Si goes back to the past, the snapshots help a person go back to the past by reflecting how life used to be like because this is clearly told by the photographs. The antique shop is; therefore, very significant in this story because it brings the past into the present and that it is not a life that is not truly being lived.
Time and Again shows how Si discovers that he can live in two eras at the same time, in a contemporary New York City and the New York City of 1882. The story is told with illustrated sketches as well as pictures of New York of the past brought into the present. The past is fused with the present to bring out the theme of change and what it can do the people and places. The different times that are focused on influence to some extent some of the things that people do. For instance, Si is forced to make a decision on which of the two eras he would wish to live. He chooses to live in the past simply because of the people he meets and interacts with while there as well as the places he visits and sees. The pictures that he sees of the past help bring out the true picture of the old New York and its history and architecture. He is more interested in living in the past than in the present, and this tells how the city has changed. Si is portrayed as an observer of the past while living in the present. The past has had a great deal of influence on him. This tells how the past New York may have been better than the present New York. It is no wonder he would rather stay in the past that portrays a lot that he desires than the present that he does not like.
The novel is a good example of modernist literary work because it employs some tenets held by modernist literature. Modernist literature came up in the period between 1910s and 1960s. This is more or less the same period when the novel was written. It came up as a result of industrialization and globalization which brought about change in so many spheres of life. This is an attribute that is clearly depicted by the change seen in New York City, which is the setting of the novel. Also, modernist literature focused on the inner self and consciousness of the characters used something that is distinctly seen through the main character in this novel. Another thing that is seen in the novel is the fact that there is a change that by the look of things can be termed as a decline of civilization and partly, it can be attributed to the fact that Si would rather live in the past than the present. It, therefore, means that life was better in the past than it is in the present.
Finney takes the reader back in time, creating a different New York City from what it was by the time he was writing this novel. The reader gets to walking on streets that could in the future hold very tall skyscrapers, almost empty roads that would one day be filled with traffic. One then gets to adore the descriptions given and gets to see what it used to be back in the day. Finney illustrates his thoughts and the story by the use of actual pictures and, therefore, one gets to see the clear sense of the period from which the story is told. A comparison of the two eras does not leave anything to chance, even food in the two eras is different, back then food was much flavored not like the processed food of 1970s. All in all, the vehicle of time travel brings out the change that comes with time and the reader gets to experience what it used to be like living in the same place they are living in today.
Finney, Jack. Time and Again. New York: Simon & Schuster. 1995