Anyone read 'The Time Traveler's Wife?' I have a question

The book is The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. It’s about a guy who travels involuntarily back and forth through time, and the non-time-traveling woman who loves him. It’s obviously got elements of science fiction and romance, but it’s not either of those genres, unless we’re talking the most intelligent and artistic end of the spectrum. It’s really good and very touching; I recommend it. But I have a question about it, so I’m hoping someone here at the Dope will have read it as well and will be able to clear this up for me.

Throughout the book there’s only two Henrys at any one time – the Henry who travels back in time, and the Henry who’s actually living in the time he travels back to. But when Henry is shot in the meadow, he basically sees himself shot – a flash of white, the sound of a gun, blood on the ground where a person has disappered, and he knows that’s how he dies. Later we relive the scene through the “other” Henry as he is in fact shot and dies. But at that time of the shooting, Clare is 13. So Henry would be 22 and living somewhere else unaware of her because he doesn’t meet her until he’s 28 in his time. So if “in-time” Henry is out in the world somewhere else, and “out-of-time” Henry is getting shot, who is the observer Henry who sees the scene from under the tree?

I hope someone else has recently read this book, because this is bugging me.

Sorry, I haven’t read it yet but it is on my list of books to read. So why the post? I wanted to recommend the book Replay by Ken (?) Grimwood which is a great book and apparently in the same time travel-ish genre as the Time Traveler’s Wife. Okay, sorry for the hijack,

Cheers, Powers

Read it – loved it – and have no idea what the answer to your question is. I didn’t think overmuch about the specifics of who/where he was at any given time – that shit makes my brain hurt – so I just, uh, went along for the ride.

Read it, liked it very much, didn’t understand that part at all. I wasn’t just confused about Henry, I was confused about Clare’s father and brother also. If they saw what I think they saw, surely they would’ve made a huge deal about it?

It’s been awhile, but I think he time travelled back to the same spot twice, once to get shot and once to see himself get shot.

From the OP:

Ok, my take on it: I don’t think there’s anywhere in the book where it is explicitly stated there can only be two Henry’s at a time, so it may not be a problem anyway. But I just figured that the ‘real-time’ Henry (age 22, unaware of Claire’s existence) may himself have been traveling to some other time when the shooting happens. So, you have two different ‘out-of-time’ Henrys, one as the observer and one who gets shot. If I recall correctly, the observer Henry travels to the shooting a few years before getting shot himself.


I didn’t think they saw that they had shot a person. They thought they had shot an animal of some sort and were surprised to find all the blood, but no body. As an even further surprise, they meet up with ‘observer’ Henry, who isn’t dressed for hunting and pretty much came out of nowhere. So later, when they meet the ‘real-time’ Henry, they note the resemblance because that whole night had been cemented in their minds.

Whew, it’s hard to talk about this book in a coherent way. . . Everything in Henry’s life is so intertwined with all the different versions of himself.

[spoiler]I’m going on memory here, but I am pretty sure the book even stated that multiple Henry’s do exist in time, especially in the time of the car accident that killed his mother. Wasn’t it said that he kept revisiting that scene over and over, so that if an outside observer in the original moment was closely watching they’d see many Henry’s of all ages?

I also found it hard to understand the shooting scene, but I think **Enigma42
** has a good explanation. I just always thought the Dad and brother should have acted a little more… suprised? Worried? about their missing prey that left blood everywhere. I also wondered why Henry didn’t warn himself about his death after he observed it. Thinking back though, I don’t remember if his transportation was immediately followed by the gunshot or not, so maybe he couldn’t help it. Anyway… [/spoiler]

ENIGMA, I think you must be right. So my only complaint would be that it would have been less confusing if . . .

. . . at some earlier point in the narrative there had been more than one time-traveling Henry in the same time as real-time Henry (for a total of three Henrys – ow, my brain hurts), so that the reader understands that multiple TT Henrys are possible in the same place, in the same time. Granted, I don’t think she ever said this wasn’t possible, but when the only occasion it happens is the pivotal scene in the book, it’s confusing.

Again, I really liked this book a lot and I do recommend it. I guess I just like my time-traveling to be logical. :slight_smile:

I think Enigma42 covered it. I loved that book.