The Timekeeper Summary

Mitch Albom

The Timekeeper

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The Timekeeper Summary

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Mitch Albom first gained recognition in the literary arena as a freelance sports journalist, then held a full-time position covering sports for the Detroit Free Press. His career as a best-selling author exploded in 1997 with the release of the memoir Tuesdays with Morrie. Other titles, such as The Five People You Meet in Heaven and For One More Day, have made him one of the leading voices in the genre of inspirational novels. Albom’s 2012 release, The Time Keeper, is a fable-like tale centering on the first man to ever attempt to keep track of time. Time is considered the most important of God’s gifts and the creator of the first clock is punished for attempting to measure it. He is sent to a cave and for generations must listen to the voices of everyone who comes after him telling of situations in which they hope for more time. Ultimately he gets his freedom and, along with it, a mission: he can save himself by teaching two people the real meaning of time.

Dor, the Time Keeper, is obsessed with the concept of time. This interest overshadows pretty much everything else in his life. When his wife is near death he asks God to grant additional time. Rather than having this prayer answered the way he hoped for, Dor is locked in the cave and must listen to all who came after him and, due to the effects of his obsession with time, have the same debilitating reliance on time. The assignment he is given to complete as a way to be restored to his own life, in his own time, is to teach two people—an old man who wants to live forever and a teenage girl who wants her time to end—to appreciate time.

Dor lives in ancient times, before the written word and other academic disciplines, and most significantly, before clocks and calendars. He marries and he and his wife have three children but his main interest continues to be creating time-keeping devices. An old friend of Dor’s appears one day. He is now a wealthy king who intends to build a tower to heaven, destroy the gods, and become the supreme ruler. Dor refuses the friend’s request to help him by making inventions that would be useful in his quest. The man then tells Dor to leave the city or be forced to help. Dor and his family move a good distance from the city and build a house where they are visited by a couple who carry some sort of disease, which infects Dor’s wife. As his wife’s condition deteriorates, Dor wishes for more time. He returns to the city and climbs the tower his old friend has built. At the top, he demands more time from God, which leads to his banishment to the cave where he has to listen to the stories of how his own obsession with time is affecting mankind.

The next part of the novel takes place in New York in the modern world, where the old man, Victor Delamonte, is running out of time as he battles cancer. He does not want to die but rather desires to live eternally. Without his wife’s knowledge he makes arrangements to have his body frozen prior to his death, with the hope of being revived in the future when a cure for him is available. Sarah Lemon, meanwhile, is a teenager in suburban New York; she is dealing with her parents’ divorce and is something of a loner. She thinks she is in love with a boy but discovers that she was just being used by him, and ponders committing suicide. Dor is sent to help Sarah and Victor and by so doing, perhaps learn the things he himself had not understood because of his obsession with time. Dor is not only sent back to Earth, but is also given the gift of being able to control time. He uses this power to learn everything he can about the world.

It is New Year’s Eve in New York when Sarah and Victor have both decided to end their lives in very different ways for very different reasons. Dor goes to New York, stops time, and introduces Victor and Sarah. Dor takes them on a journey through their pasts, and their futures as well. He makes them aware that the paths they have chosen will greatly hurt the people they love. When Dor has time begin again, both Sarah and Victor decide to keep living. They end up meeting in an emergency room where Victor gives Sarah money for her education, an education that will ultimately help her cure the type of cancer from which he is suffering. Dor then returns to his own time and holds his dying wife.

Mitch Albom’s message in The Time Keeper is that time and the way people look at it is a powerful and misunderstood force in life. One character feels that he does not have enough time, while another feels that she cannot stand to face more time. The character who brings the others together and is obsessed with time has to learn that simply quantifying time is not enough, and that by focusing time itself, one loses other things in life.