Einstein's Dreams | Study Guide

Alan Lightman

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Course Hero. "Einstein's Dreams Study Guide." March 30, 2017. Accessed November 14, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Einsteins-Dreams/.


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Einstein's Dreams | 11 May 1905 | Summary



Everything in this world is organized, aligned, and tidy. Broken things repair themselves, and even falling leaves arrange themselves into neat lines. Passing time only brings more order to this world. The Dream Figures don't need to clean or garden or organize on their own since the world will take care of it for them. They inevitably grow weary of all this order in their lives; in the spring they attempt to make things more disorganized by breaking windows and smashing furniture. But by summer people come back to their senses and stop fighting against order.


Here Lightman continues to show how the perception of time can affect people's emotions. People feel constricted by the structure and order time brings, and this seems to limit their sense of free will. The narrator observes that "people with untidy houses lie in their beds and wait for the forces of nature to jostle the dust from their windowsills." They seem to feel no sense of agency in their own lives, which leads to a feeling of inertia and helplessness. They eventually rebel against the idea that "the future is pattern, organization, union, intensification." Yet order will always win out since this is the rule of time. This world demonstrates free will is, in a sense, an illusion, since people will always be governed by the rules of time they live in. Rebellion is futile, though acceptance doesn't seem to lead to happiness.

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