How is time subjectively represented in Hotel World?

Quick answer:

Time is represented subjectively in Hotel World in that events center on the characters' personal traumas and experiences instead of an objective clock or calendar.

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Time is represented subjectively in Ali Smith's novel Hotel World because the chronology of events is determined by characters' personal recollections and traumas in lieu of a more objective standard like a clock or character.

The subjective representation of time can make Hotel World hard to follow at times. There might be some parts where it's difficult discern if it's the present or the past. Perhaps Smith is obscuring the demarcation between past and present on purpose. Maybe she's trying to say that time isn't as binary as some might presume.

Smith doesn't waste any time showing off the subjectivity of time. The book begins with Sara narrating her death. Sara's exuberance makes it feel like it's happening right now. There's a rush and urgency that suggests the present tense. Yet what Sara is telling about has already happened. Her fall occurred during "the height of summer."

Of course, it's not summer anymore. The reader knows it's not summer anymore because Sara notes the "faded," wintery street. If Sara doesn't detail the wintery street, the reader might not pick up on the shift in time. It's up to Sara's personal narrative to represent the movement of time.

Not only does Sara create her own time, she also helps create the time for the other characters. Her death is central to figuring out the time and location of characters like Lise, Clare, and Duncan.

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