93 pages 3 hours read

Margaret Peterson Haddix


Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 2008

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Symbols & Motifs

Time and Time Travel

Found centers around time and time travel, though it is not clear until nearly halfway through the story. The first allusion to time travel comes in the prologue, with the sudden appearance of the plane. It becomes clear that any unexplainable appearance or disappearance is a moment when time travel is taking place. This motif culminates at the story’s end when the main three characters travel through time.

Time itself is also a prominent symbol, as the concept of knowing history becomes extremely important. Jonah finds comfort in knowing what answers to provide during his history quiz, only to later learn he actually came from that very history. Additionally, because he was brought to the 21st century, the history he knows might ultimately be inaccurate because being removed from his original time period disrupted time.

Time travel is the catalyst for the story’s main conflict. When the plane appears in the 21st century, it is an accident that JB causes when he tries to prevent Gary and Hodge from taking the children into the future. Because they are well-known children from the past, JB wants to send them back to their correct times so that the disruptions their absences caused can be resolved.