In Chapter 3 of H. G. Wells's The Time Machine, what possibilities present themselves to the mind of the Time Traveler in the time machine?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Chapter 3 of H. G. Wells's The Time Machine actually does not speak of the moment in which the time traveler is traveling in the machine. It's actually in Chapter 4 that he travels in the machine and is presented with numerous choices. However, he does have some thoughts in Chapter 3, so below is a discussion of both chapters.

In Chapter 3, all of the same visitors return to learn more about the Time Traveler's machine and story. However, the Time Traveler is hungry, and one choice he makes is to not say a word until he has eaten his dinner of mutton. Next, the Editor wants to debate about the possibility of the machine even existing, since the machine is rather paradoxical, as the Editor phrases it. At that point, the Time Traveler can either choose to debate with the Editor or to simply tell his story. The Time Traveler decides not to argue and to simply tell his story, as we see when he replies, "I can't argue to-night. I don't mind telling you the story, but I can't argue. I will ... tell you the story of what has happened to me, if you like, but you must refrain from interruptions" (Ch. 3). He then begins to tell the story in the next chapter, complete with all of the choices he was presented with as he was traveling through the machine.

The most major choice he is presented with in Chapter 4 concerns what will happen should he actually stop the machine. As this is all a new scientific experiment, he doesn't truly know what will happen to him if he stops. He knows that scientifically his molecules will merge with the molecules of the present and that such a merger may cause an explosion, which would "blow [himself] and [his] apparatus out of all possible dimensions--into the Unknown" (Ch. 4). As a result, he makes the decision that he can never stop; however, he acts contrary to his decision and eventually pulls the lever that serves as the machine's breaks. Therefore, two possibilities that present themselves to the mind of the time traveler as he travels are (1) the possibility of choosing to stop or (2) the possibility of choosing never to stop. Other possibilities, or choices, he is presented with as he travels through the machine concern exactly when to stop. As he travels through the future, he passes through day, night, multiple seasons, the creation and demolishment of many new buildings, and many new years; he could choose to stop at any one of these points; therefore, all of the options of when to stop are also possibilities that present themselves to the mind of the time traveler.

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