Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Chapter 3: First Date, Two
Written by Amanda
Edited by Rose/Krystal

Friday, September 23, 1977 (Henry is 26, Clare is 6)

Henry finds himself in the Meadow, naked, with no box that Clare keeps clothes in for him. This is not the first time this has happened; he has arrived before he and Clare have met and it is always a pain to sit and wait. As he sits and considers the apples across the meadow, a screen door slam in the distance and Clare appears alone in the clearing, very young and oblivious. She spreads out a beach towel and begins drawing as Henry watches in the woods. Thinking about Clare’s sweet innocence, he opens his eyes to realize he’s been humming along with her and she’s now staring right at him.Thinking it’s her nimrod brother, Clare hurls a shoe, hitting him in the mouth. He asks her not to hurl anything else and explains that he’s lost his clothes, doesn’t know anyone and now he’s bleeding, no thanks to her. When she asks where he came from, Henry confesses he’s from the future and that he’s a time traveler.She asks him to come out and he convinces her to loan him the beach towel. It’s a bright pink and orange and Henry laughs internally about meeting his future wife for the first time in this.

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Memorable Quotes:

Henry: I’m in the Meadow, waiting (Page 37)

Henry: “Greetings, Earthling,” I intone, kindly.
Clare: “Mark! You nimrod!” Clare is casting around for something to throw, and decides on her shoes, which have heavy, sharp heels. She whips them off and does throw the, I don’t think she can see me very well, but she lucks out and one of them catches me in the mouth. My lip starts to bleed. (Page 38)

Henry: “I’m hiding because I lost my clothes and I’m embarrassed. I came a long way and I’m hungry and I don’t know anybody and now I’m bleeding.” (Page 39)

Henry: “Loan me your beach towel.” She picks it up and all the pens and pencils and papers go flying. She throws it, overhand, and I grab it and turn my back as I stand and wrap it around my waist. It is bright pink and orange with a loud geometric pattern. Exactly the sort of thing you’d want to be wearing when you meet you future wife for the first time. (Page 39)

Clare: “You’re bleeding.”
Henry: “Well, yeah. You threw a shoe at me.” (Page 39)

Henry: “Basically, sometimes I get lost in time and I don’t know when I am.” (Page 47)

Henry: “Gosh, that’s very nice of you. Unfortunately, I am not allowed to meet your family until 1991.” (Page 48)

Questions for discussion:

What do you think of Henry and Clare’s first meeting, for her? How is how you felt different from when he met her for the first time, for him?

Did Henry’s tape recorder analogy help you understand the way that he time travels?

Henry makes up a rule about not talking to regular people when he time travels to another time, but confesses that he doesn’t actually believe this. Which version do you believe – does ANY interaction mess things up or is it OK for Henry to be talking to Clare?

When it comes to time travel it’s impossible to say which came first, the egg or the chicken. For example, Henry knows what to do because he’s already done it. How do you think Audrey manages to make us believe time travel is possible despite no proof that it is?

Did someone or something in this chapter take you by surprise and if so, what?

Read and discuss more HERE.

Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Chapter 4: Lessons in Survival
Written by Amanda
Edited by Rose/Krystal

Thursday, June 7, 1973 (Henry is 27, and 9)

Henry meets up with his younger self outside the Art Institute of Chicago for a lesson in pickpocketing. It’s sad that he has to teach his younger self these vital skills such as shoplifting, beating people up, picking locks, climbing trees, driving, housebreaking, dumpster diving, and how to use oddball things like venetian blinds and garbage can lids as weapons. On the other hand, this corruption of his innocence had to be done some time or another, so why not now. They head inside, where older Henry gives multiple examples of pickpocketing. When it’s time for young Henry to try, older Henry smiles, remembering exactly what happens.

Read the rest of the summary HERE.

Memorable Quotes:

Henry: I feel moderately bad about this whole thing. On the one hand, I am providing myself with urgently required survival skills. Other lessons in this series include Shoplifting, Beating People Up, Picking Locks, Climbing Trees, Driving, Housebreaking, Dumpster Diving, and How to Use Oddball Things like Venetian Blinds and Garbage Can Lids as Weapons. On the other hand, I’m corrupting my poor innocent little self. I sigh. Somebody’s got to do it. (Page 51)

Henry: A translucent moment. I didn’t understand, and then I did, just like that. I watch it happen. I want to beboth of us at once, feel again the feeling of losing the edges of my self, of seeing the admixture of future and present for the first time. But I’m too accustomed, too comfortable with it, and so I am left on the outside, remembering the wonder of being nine and suddenly seeing, knowing, that my friend, guide, brother was me. Me, only me. The loneliness of it. (Page 55)

Henry: I feel like a castaway, the last member of a once numerous species. It was as though Robinson Crusoe discovered the telltale footprint on the beach and then realized that it was his own. (Page 56)

Henry: The upside of this police car is: it’s warm and I’m not in Chicago. Chicago’s Finest hate me because I keep disappearing while I’m in custody, and they can’t figure it out. (Page 60)

Henry: “He’s so… beautiful,” Clare says. There’s something about the way she says it that makes me feel strange. I study the board, and it occurs to me that Clare could checkmate me if she took my bishop with her knight. I wonder if I should tell her this. If she was a little younger, I would. Twelve is old enough to fend for yourself. Clare is staring dreamily at the board. It dawns on me that I am jealous. Jesus. I can’t believe I’m feeling jealous of a multimillionaire rock star geezer old enough to be Clare’s dad.
“Hmpf,” I say. (Page 65)

Clare: “It’s just that I thought maybe you were married to me.” (Page 71)

Clare: My clothes are soaked in an instant and I suddenly feel that Henry is there, an incredible need for Henry to be there and to put his hands on me even while it seems to me that Henry is the rain and I am alone and wanting him. (Page 73)

Henry: “That’s called determinism,” I tell her. “It haunts my dreams.” (Page 75)

Henry: “Well, I do and I don’t. Chaos is more freedom; in fact, total freedom. But no meaning. I want to be free to act, and I also want my actions to mean something.” (Page 76)

Clare: “Henry?”
Henry: “Yeah?”
Clare: “You are making me different.”
Henry: “I know.”
I turn to look at Clare and just for a moment I forget that she is young, and that this is long ago; I see Clare, my wife, superimposed on the face of this young girl, and I don’t know what to say to this Clare who is old and young and different from other girls, who knows that different might be hard. (Page 79)

Questions for discussion:

How do you think you’d react if you were Henry and realized that the only person who understands you, your time traveling in this case, is you? Would you feel lost and alone?

What do you think Audrey is doing, bouncing around between characters and events that are now showing the conflict in what happens when someone has the ability to time travel?

Near the end of this chapter Clare tells Henry that he’s making her different by telling her about things that she likes in the future. Henry argues that he’s not changing anything because it’s acts of free will. Do you agree with Clare or Henry? Do you think that the things that Henry told Clare in her past influenced the decisions that she made?

The chapter is called “Lessons in Survival” Was Audrey referring simply to Henry teaching himself how to survive as a time traveler? If so, why does she spend so many pages on things about how the time travel works and the relationship between Clare and Henry when she’s a child?

Did you notice something in this chapter that you’d like to discuss with the book club?

Read and discuss more HERE.