Unlike our Terminator site which investigates inconsistencies in time travel, this site is simply a listing of all events that occur in the story. We will uncover some errors with the story, but that is not it's main purpose.
There are several differences between the time-travelling in Terminator and that describe here. In that story characters intentionally travel in time. Here Henry has no control over his travel, neither when he leaves nor where he arrives. The other striking difference is that this story makes it very clear that Henry is unable to change events.
In Terminator, events are changed by the arrival of a traveller. Here events must unfold unchanged. On the Terminator discussion page, we talk about a concept of time-travel we call "instant causality". Using an example of a traveller leaving in the future at Point B and returning to the past at Point A.
Another concept is what we call instant causality. Duration along the time line is an aspect of consciousness and not of the time line itself. Because a decision to travel back in time from Point B will be made then it has already occurred when we first reach Point A and there is no scenario in which events that eventually will occur do not occur. In this way, there are never altered chronologies, there is only one and it contains all visits from the future.
Here, in The Time Traveler's Wife, nothing Henry does can change events. He attempts to prevent his mother's death and fails. He attempts to prevent the girl from being killed at the ice rink, he fails. Events will play out unchanged regardless.
In listing the events depicted in the book, we've decided that they fall into four types:
- First meeting · Events from the earliest up to Henry's first appearance in the Meadow
- First Real-time meeting · Events from there up to Henry and Clare's real-time meeting in the library
- Henry's first trip back · Those events that occured between that and Henry's first trip back to Clare's childhood
- Alba's birth · Events from that point up to Alba's birth
- The end · And finally everything that happened from there until the end.
The mention of the girl at the ice rink brings up one of the reasons why the Chronology listed by You Know Jack was insufficient for our purposes. We are not criticizing You Know Jack. The reason for that system is very different than the reason for ours.
That listing does not treat the departure and the arrival as separate events. For instance, it states that on June 13, 1976 "Henry slips back in time & misses wedding". This is listed chronologically in 1976.
This is not entirely accurate. These are separate events. On June 13 1976 Henry arrives, having disappeared from the wedding. However, on October 23 1993, at the wedding ceremony, Henry disappears. These should be listed separately, one chronologically in 1976 and the other in 1993.
Another reason the listing was insufficient for our purposes is that it does not include events that are simply referred to and does not list events that can be inferred.
For instance, when the two 15-year-old Henrys get together they talk about an event where Henry saw a young girl get hit by a hockey puck and die. They mention that they had travelled back to the day and attempted to prevent this from happening.
This gives us three events that do not show up in You Know Jack's listing. The first, a Real-Time event, is when Henry sees the young girl killed. The second is an Arrival when Henry appears from the future and attempts to prevent it. The third is a Departure, when Henry leaves and returns to the event. Although the Real-Time and Arrival occur on the same day the two Henrys do not interact and therefore these are chronologically three separate events.
Other events, such as Henry's birth, can be inferred but are never mentioned in the book.
Finally, in building this more detailed listing we uncovered some inconsistencies. For example, in the book it states that at Clare's second visit from Henry he is 35 years old. However, in that meeting he tells Clare that he is coming from March 27 2000. We know that June 16 1968 is Henry's first time trip and that this occurred on his 5th birthday. This means that Henry was born on June 16 1963. And from this we can determine that on March 27 2000 Henry is 36 years old, not 35 as the book states.