(In)stability of Time

In finishing the novel, I still find myself very interested by the projection of time within In the House… Time is presented in such an atypical manner, that it is only natural that one must reach out in order to understand it. In class we had discussed the stability and instability of the novel – focusing mostly on the stability/instability of the body, etc. I, however, question the stability/instability of time as portrayed by Matt Bell.

The presentation of time as anomalous becomes extremely apparent once we reach the final third of the book. I say, even, the end identifies this point most precisely. Time does not act on each character the same, or, even, in each “world” the same. We see the mother/wife, aged, but then young again, the fondling, forever in a stasis of youth, and the father/husband, old, haggard, and oft teetering between life and death. These things all occur, even, within the same few pages, during the same timeline. While the father ages, the mother ages and reverts, and the fondling remains ever youthful and odd. 

The changes in the world itself seem more linear, but they are distracted by the happenings within the characters. It becomes essentially impossible to view time as normal, or linear, even when our setting presents it as such, because a linear and normal timeline would not age and forget about the people within our setting. This is to say that, perhaps even, the characters interact with time differently than the “world” interacts with time – however, one must overpower the other.

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