Discuss the theme of time in Tom's Midnight Garden.

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In Philippa Pearce’s novel Tom’s Midnight Garden, the theme of time can be discussed in terms of isolation and connection.

On the one hand, Tom’s ability to travel back in time is a product of having to stay away from other people. Since Tom might have been exposed to measles,...

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In Philippa Pearce’s novel Tom’s Midnight Garden, the theme of time can be discussed in terms of isolation and connection.

On the one hand, Tom’s ability to travel back in time is a product of having to stay away from other people. Since Tom might have been exposed to measles, he has to spend a lot of time by himself. It’s possible to claim that his loneliness leads to his time-traveling adventures. If he was actively hanging out with people, perhaps he wouldn’t have had the space to hear the clock and travel to the Victorian period. Maybe Pearce is drawing attention to the subjectivity of time. Time depends on one’s subjective context as much as on an objective numeral.

Also alone is Mrs. Bartholomew. She is portrayed as unfriendly and antisocial. As a character warns Tom early on, “You don’t want to run into her.” Yet Tom, unbeknownst to him till the end, does run into her. It’s as if their isolated predicaments permitted them to meet in a different period. As the time warp brought them together, Pearce could be trying to say that people of different ages and eras can meaningfully bond. Time can serve as a unifier.

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