Einstein's Dreams | Study Guide

Alan Lightman

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Course Hero. "Einstein's Dreams Study Guide." March 30, 2017. Accessed December 12, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Einsteins-Dreams/.


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Einstein's Dreams | 10 May 1905 | Summary



In this world a town is composed of many pieces. One neighborhood lives in the 15th century; another lives in the 18th century; yet another lives in the present. Each piece of the town is "fastened to a different time." The texture of time can be smooth or rough, hard or soft. But in this world the texture of time is sticky, so pieces of the town become stuck in a moment in history. People also can get stuck at some point in their lives. But the tragedy of this world is no one is happy, even if the moment they are stuck in is one of joy, because everyone around them has moved ahead in time. Everyone who is stuck is alone because the past can't be shared with the present.


Throughout the novel Lightman investigates people's sense of becoming stuck in time. In this dream world people become stuck in a literal sense; this illuminates the metaphorical ways in which people become trapped by their memories and past actions, choosing to "live" there even in their present lives. This shows yet again that people's sense of time is subjective and can shape their perceptions about reality as well as their actions. Feeling time's influence can also shape people's emotional reactions; in this world people become unhappy when they feel stuck in their past because they feel alone. Here Lightman points out the importance of shared experiences in humanity, and suggests that this sense of being understood is integral to one's well-being.

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