Amis, Martin. Time's Arrow.
Tod Friendly, America
- the everyday life of an old man turning young: each activity being described as it would be done backwards
- doctor job: "you have to be cruel to be kind," observes the narrator on Tod's healing of his patients (p. 41)
- race attitudes: the narrator sides with Jews and Japanese because they read "forwards", the way he would do himself if he could (p. 51)
- Tod's many affairs with many women: Irene is the only of his lovers to last
- Tod conceals an unknown secret from everyone
John Young, New York
- naturalisation in the US
- the way downwards the social scale
- surgeon job: hard-working, but unemotional
- love life: having a number of women, but loving none
- abortions: announced by nightmares earlier in the narrative
Hamilton de Souza, Lisbon
- love to a gypsy girl - positive racism, racism put on its head?
Odilo Unverdorben, Auschwitz
- medical experiments on Jews
- failing family life: wife Herta, baby Eva
- expectation of his birth and the final realisation that he has come too late when everything is over
- narrated backwards
- descriptive, evaluative, at times graphic (the use of the toilet backwards), at times amusing
- the 1st person narrator is trapped in the body of the protagonist which lives its own life independent of the narrator's will
- the narrator shares the protagonist's body x but: has no access to his mind
- the narrator comments on the protagonist's actions x but: unaware of the backward movement of things
- the narrator acts as a conscience of the protagonist
- the backwards narration: beginning with the protagonist's actual death and moving gradually further to his birth, the backwards narration may symbolically stand for a dying man's reflections on his life when on his deathbed
- the narrator's search for the protagonist's secret, for the nature of his offence
- the narrator's unsatisfied desire to influence the protagonist's actions according to his own will: the narrator has the potential of will x but: does not hold the power to act upon it (p. 102)
- conscience: "The voice of conscience. [...] Nobody hears it," the narrator realises when he attempts to make the protagonist act as he would (p. 56)
- the relationship between creation and destruction: from the backwards point of view, creation is no trouble, but destruction is difficult (p. 26)
- the psychological effects of the awareness of one's crimes on the personality
- the essential relativity of everything
- telling names
- the baby as a bomb
- birth as death and vice versa
- the recurrent motif of fire as the creator - the fire of hell?
AuthorAmis, Martin. (b. 1949).
Full TitleTime's Arrow; or, the Nature of the Offence.
First PublishedLondon: Jonathan Cape, 1991.
Amis, Martin. Time's Arrow. (1991). London: Penguin, 1992.