Home > Free Essays > Literature > American Literature > “The Time Traveler’s Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger

“The Time Traveler’s Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger Research Paper

Exclusively available on IvyPanda Available only on IvyPanda
Updated: Oct 16th, 2021

Audrey Niffenegger

Audrey Niffenegger, who was born in 1963 in Michigan, is widely known as a famous artist and an outstanding writer. She is also considered to be a professor at the College Center for Paper Arts and Books. Audrey Niffenegger is a member of an artists group which exhibits in Chicago.

Audrey Niffenegger teaches writing to artists. She basically concentrates on the combination of the images and text and trying to create different stories by means of illustrations and comics. Her creative work is also devoted to the teaching of lithography, seminars and edition book making, letterpress printing. She expresses her talent in wonderful visual novels, paintings, photographs and drawings. The analysis of her works discloses the fact that her style of writing is quiet, strange and figurative.

Audrey Niffenegger has a gallery Printworks which is situated in Chicago. Her printmaking is really individual and unique and differs by its obscurity, the line quality and intimacy.

The creative work of Audrey Niffenegger was influenced by many famous and outstanding writers and artists. For example, in writing the author was merely influenced by Henry James, Allan Poe and Richard Powers, while in the sphere of art she was influenced by Joseph Cornell, Hans Bellmer, Horst Janssen and Winsor McCay.

The first works of the author are devoted to the writer’s life experience and disclose the events and facts which were familiar to her that is why many of these works are autobiographical. One of such works is The Time Traveler’s Wife where the writer reflected the life of her close people in the characters. She added some imaginary and mixed it with the real facts of life.

Personal Opinion

The first novel of Audrey Niffenegger which is called The Time Traveler’s Wife is very vital and involving. It discloses the real life of the couple and besides, the story was partially experienced by the author. I for one consider this book to be very close to life though it tells about the time travelling of a loving person who is unable to control his life and love.

The author shows the reader details of the touchy love story which took place in her real life between her grandparents. Reading the story I managed to understand how deep the feelings of her characters were and why the author decided to devote the whole book to this topic and period of her personal life. One can realize that Audrey Niffenegger always admired warm relationships of her grandparents whose love was so deep that neither time nor death could separate them.

The content of the book The Time Traveler’s Wife discloses the feelings of loving people who are ready to overcome any obstacles whatever the cost in order to be together and just love each other. I can say that the mood of the characters was transferred on my own and I managed to live their lives.

It is important to stress that the author raised this problem of feelings obstacles not in vain. She wanted to stress the value of love for people, to prove that there are no prohibitions in this feeling and people who love each other always can overcome any difficulties, as the same her grandparents did.

Henry DeTamble and Clare Abshire, who are the main characters of the love story, managed to demonstrate that even time cannot be more powerful than their feelings. The author made the story very involving as it transfers the atmosphere of that time on the readers and gives an opportunity to compare the life and values of two different generations.

Summary of the Book

The book The Time Traveler’s Wife discloses the story of the librarian from Chicago Henry DeTamble was devoted his life to making different pieces of art, to be more exact paper sculptures. His ordinary and boring life stopped when he met a young girl Clare Abshire. He saw the girl for the first time and fell in love with her though she had known Henry earlier. The protagonist of the story Henry DeTamble began to experience the whole life of Clare beginning with her childhood and up to her present age.

The problem was that Henry suffered genetic disorder which was considered to be a rare phenomenon called Chrono-Displacement. Due to this disorder Henry traveled through time and experienced different periods of his life. He had no opportunity to control time and his life. He never knew how long his travelling would last and where he went. His life depended on his consciousness because Henry often traveled to the places which were familiar to him.

The stressful situations caused by genetic disorder made his life confusing and panic. Thus, very often Henry transferred to the time of the car accident when his mother died and he survived. This event was experienced several times by him and step by step his life appeared to turn into one great nightmare. He was similar to schizophrenic and was about to suffer epilepsy attack. Henry did not know what to do and just tried to calm himself by running; the only thing was to do everything fast for him not to travel back to these moments any more.

Henry’s life is a secret for him while he can control neither time nor events from his life. It is difficult to predict anything from his future or even past. Henry traveled to this r that place being completely naked; he had to look for clothes and shelter, to find some food and avoid arrestment. Such difficult situations of his life helped him to work out a number of skills such as pickpocketing and expert fighting. He saw several versions of himself and studied them thoroughly learning some new skills and getting new experience. He examined his past and some facts from his future and it made him be more resistant to the surprises of his personal life and travelling.

Speaking about Clare, Henry traveled to her periods of life beginning with her childhood at the age of six. One his visit disclosed to her the whole lists of their possible meetings in future so she had an opportunity to write everything into her diary and wait for him. When the time passed and Clare became an adult, they met once more and she showed him the whole list of his travels in order to help him to memorize everything and be aware of them when he returned in the past. Henry tried to memorize the entire list and during their next meeting he told Clare about their future marriage.

At Clare’s eighteen birthday party they met for the last time before their long parting for two years. When time had passed, they met and it was real time for both of the characters. Henry and Clare got married as it was predicted, but their troubled never finished. Genetic Disorder experienced by Henry was an obstacle in child conceiving. Several miscarriages made Henry give up and had a vasectomy.

Some time later another Henry’s version traveled to Clare’s future and made love with her, as a result she became pregnant. They had a child, a daughter Alba. But their child faced the same diagnose as her father did. Henry’s worrying as to this problem made his life unstable and difficult. Once he traveled to the future in order to meet their daughter. This meeting disclosed the fact of his death when their daughter was only five.

His traveling still took place and once he got to Chicago at a cold night. He could not find any shelter to live and as a result he suffered hypothermia and then frostbite. This travels was almost mortal for him and after his returning to the family his feet had to be amputated. It is important to stress that his ability to walk and especially run was really vital because of the different dangerous travelling situations experienced by him. Thus, his last trip after the operations resulted in his death; Henry was shot in the Michigan wood by Clare’s brother during deer season. He managed to return to his wife and died in her arms.

These life events made Clare’s life unbearable because she could not imagine her life without Henry. Their daughter Alba had an opportunity to see him several times due to her disorder but she never saw her parents together in the future.

Henry did not want to make Clare wait for his returning and that is why he left a letter for her telling this. He explained to Clare that they would compulsory see each other and their love is really stronger than time and death. Henry saw her future when she was an old woman and he wished her only happiness, though he understood that she would never forget him and their feelings to each other.

The author showed that their love knew no boundaries and was the most powerful feeling in the world. The characters managed to overcome a lot of difficulties and managed to save their feelings and create a strong and loving family. This book showed that sometimes people cannot change the flow of events and stop the time but all the same they can build their future if they have close people and a loving person. Audrey Niffenegger illustrated strict measurements and conditions in which people sometimes live and cannot change, but they always have to try coping with them in order to improve their life and be with a person one’s love. This story underlined the power of love as the greatest feeling in the world.

Research Paper: Genetic Disorders

Audrey Niffenegger touched the problem of such phenomenon as genetic disorder in her book The Time Traveler’s Wife. The main character who suffered this condition was the embodiment of all those people who experience the same problem in real life. The author exaggerated some points of this type of disorder but managed to explain what difficulties it can bring to people’s life.

A genetic disorder is considered to be a human condition in which people suffer abnormalities in chromosomes. One can compare this disease with cancer but in contrast to it genetic disorder covers all the cells of human body rather than few of them. In some cases genetic disorder can be also caused by chromosomal and genes disorders. Generally speaking these disorders are rare and can be suffered by one person in several millions. These types of diseases are thoroughly tested and studied by geneticists, but all the same some genetic phenomenon cannot be explained.

One of the most widely spread genetic disorder is cystic fibrosis. According to the statistics about five percent of all Americans suffer this disease; it means that they have one defective gene. Genetic disorders may have various forms such as complex or polygenic. People who suffer this disease should have different lifestyle from healthy people. They usually change their norm of life making it more convenient and appropriate to their condition. (Genetic Diseases and Disorders, 2008)

This phenomenon really takes place in our life and very often people who suffer it feel that they are outsiders and abnormal having no chance to live usual social life. It is caused by public attitude to them which in most cases makes them feel their aloofness and odd position in the society. People with genetic disorders are very often “strangers” in the society.

Genetic disorders depend on the history of the family and heritage; according to these factors there can be the following diseases:

  • Canavan Disease – is a very serious disorder of the human nervous system. This disorder is considered to be fatal in the very childhood and only in small cases people reach their adulthood. It cannot be treated and is caused by some hazardous substances which ruin central nervous system;
  • Sickle Cell Disease – is a kind of genetic disease which is more typical for people of Afro-America origin, Hispanic and Mediterranean. This disorder is usually caused by variant hemoglobin changing the blood cells shape. It results in severe pain and anemia; according to some data this form of disease can be treated in very rare cases;
  • Thalassemia – is a genetic disorder that influences the person’s ability of hemoglobin producing. This form is also considered to be very dangerous and can be fatal for small children having serious form of it. It leads to the bones problems and in most cases to anemia.

Thus, the data mentioned above showed that some forms of genetic disorders are popular in particular ethnical groups. According to Health Care Specialists, children born by parents with gene disorders may appear to be healthy, but in case both parents have abnormal genes the chance of a child being affected is 25 % for pregnancy. (Bartoshesky, 2007)

People who are born with genetic disorders usually face the problem of genetic discrimination. The modern society in rare cases perceives such people as normal and full-fledged. About 3% of children are born with genetic disorders but in most cases this disease can be developed with time. This disorder can result in cancer or in heart disease; it can result in physical and mental anomalies. There were some cases when people with genetic diseases were rejected in job providing and some cooperation. Such cases are very often in our modern life while employees tried to hire only people with healthy physical state.

Some statistical data show that those who suffer genetic disorders should not and even have no right to have children as the risk of their children to be affected is very high. It is really true that in some cases children can really have the same problems with their health as parents but nevertheless people with disorders have the right to live a happy life and give birth to their children. They hope that their children will be happier and will be born without any disorders; otherwise they have an opportunity to treat it. Modern medical situation has been developing and it studies such phenomena as genetic disorders; but nowadays many forms of this disease cannot be treated or predicted. Thus, a lot of children are born with defects, either physical or mental. (Birth Defects, 2008)

A birth defect begins to develop when the child is in the mother’s body, who suffers genetic disorders. As a result such defects can be reflected on the child’s body, his manners of walking or speaking. Besides, parent’s genetic disorders can influence the heart of the child and result in serious illnesses. Defects caused by abnormal heritage can have various forms and can be both mild and severe. Some of such defects can be even fatal for the child that is why the parents’ condition and state of health is always thoroughly tested before the child birth. In most cases such defects even need surgery interference or serious medical treatment.

That is why most scientists and geneticists say that people with genetic disorders are better not to give a birth to a child and ruin his life from the very childhood. On the other hand, everyone has a right for happiness and there is a chance that a child can be born healthy. (Grove, 2007)

Genetic disorders can cause the most unpredictable and unexamined diseases which in most cases cannot be treated. With every passing year modern medical centers try to concentrate more on this issue and develop different medicine in order to support people with such problems. It is important to stress that modern international conferences raise the problem of some serious diseases caused by abnormal heritage as they are spread not only in America and Europe, but in the whole world.

Doctors develop new theories and approaches related to the problem and practice them to know more about the issue. Mental and physical diseases caused by genetic heritage cannot be explained and if they are developed at early age, it is almost impossible to predict their appearance. Thus, modern researches continue to develop this issue and provide some hope to those who suffer this disorder.


One of the most difficult and dangerous forms which can be caused by these disorders is the syndrome of Down, that is a mental illness affecting human brain. People with such forms of disease have different way of life and are not perceived by the society. Their mental activities are weak and they see the world differently. Their life is constant treatment which makes patients feel strangers among the society. Besides they have separate program for study, they used to walk separately and they seem to live alone. The only friends of their own are their relatives and parents. Only they can support such people and be always there to help.

Genetic discrimination makes such people suffer and in most cases they became cruel for the whole world with lack of understanding. It is important to stress that it is our modern society that creates cruelness and misunderstanding while it refuses to express any support to people with mental diseases.

So, the research carried out showed that the problem raised in the book The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger is really spread in the modern world in every ethnical group. The author wanted to show that parents with genetic disorders will have children with the same problems. It was really proved by the research. It is necessary to underline the fact that the life of people with disorders is really unusual and difficult that is why society should not worsen it.

The author of the book and the research carried out proved that some forms of genetic disorders cannot be treated by modern medicine but it should not be an obstacle for love and happiness as it was proved by the characters of the story. Audrey Niffenegger raised one of the popular problems of the society and managed to demonstrate it on the example of time travelling device; she wanted to stress that there are some situations we cannot change but people should always try to be happy in every moment and never turn their back to those who love, no matter what physical or mental state they have. The author proved that everyone in this world deserves respect and has a real chance for happiness.


Niffenegger, Audrey. The Time Traveler’s Wife. Publisher: MacAdam. pp. 518. 2003.

Grove, Ryan. People with Disorders should not have Children. Genetic Claims. 2007.

Genetic Diseases and Disorders. Health Insite. 2008. Web.

Bartoshesky, Louis. The basics of Genes and Genetic Disorders. Genes and Heredity. 2007.

Birth Defects. Specific Conditions. 2008. Web.

This research paper on “The Time Traveler’s Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.
Removal Request
If you are the copyright owner of this paper and no longer wish to have your work published on IvyPanda.
Request the removal

Need a custom Research Paper sample written from scratch by
professional specifically for you?

801 certified writers online

Cite This paper
Select a referencing style:


IvyPanda. (2021, October 16). “The Time Traveler's Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-time-travelers-wife-by-audrey-niffenegger/


IvyPanda. (2021, October 16). “The Time Traveler's Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-time-travelers-wife-by-audrey-niffenegger/

Work Cited

"“The Time Traveler's Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger." IvyPanda, 16 Oct. 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/the-time-travelers-wife-by-audrey-niffenegger/.

1. IvyPanda. "“The Time Traveler's Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger." October 16, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-time-travelers-wife-by-audrey-niffenegger/.


IvyPanda. "“The Time Traveler's Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger." October 16, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-time-travelers-wife-by-audrey-niffenegger/.


IvyPanda. 2021. "“The Time Traveler's Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger." October 16, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-time-travelers-wife-by-audrey-niffenegger/.


IvyPanda. (2021) '“The Time Traveler's Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger'. 16 October.

Powered by CiteTotal, easy citation creator
More related papers