Our Town

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The Time Capsule Symbol Icon
However, the song can also have a darker significance. It is perhaps ironic in Act Two, as it is sung just as Emily is panicking and saying that she does not want to be bound to George in marriage. In this context, the song is almost menacing, as Emily has little choice but to be connected to George. And in the cemetery of Act Three, the real tie that binds all of us together seems to be our inevitable mortality, as we all die and end up in a cemetery just like the deceased characters. Still, the hymn is, overall, an affirmation of the family and community groups in the play bound together by various ties of family, friendship, and love.

The Time Capsule Quotes in Our Town

The Our Town quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Time Capsule. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Theater Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Perennial edition of Our Town published in 2003.
Act 1 Quotes

Y’know—Babylon once had two million people in it, and all we know about ’em is the names of the kings and some copies of wheat contracts... and contracts for the sale of slaves. Yet every night all those families sat down to supper, and the father came home from his work, and the smoke went up the chimney,—same as here. And even in Greece and Rome, all we know about the real life of the people is what we can piece together out of the joking poems and the comedies they wrote for the theatre back then.

So I’m going to have a copy of this play put in the cornerstone and the people a thousand years from now’ll know a few simple facts about us.

Related Characters: Stage Manager (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Time Capsule
Page Number: 33
Explanation and Analysis:

In one of the play's most direct instances of breaking down the fourth wall, the Stage Manager declares he will put a copy of Our Town itself into the time capsule Grover's Corners is making, which is also set to contain newspapers and a copy of the Bible, among other things.

The time capsule is the product of the town's strong desire for continuity and preservation -- for its present to live on into the future -- and the Stage Manager justifies the choice to represent Grover's Corners with commonplace artifacts by critiquing the ancient civilizations of Babylon, Greece, and Rome: while all three of these ancient cities are unparalleled in fame and importance, our knowledge of how most of their population lived is scant and based entirely on inferences made from sources on other subjects. By including everyday artifacts, the Stage Manager insists upon the importance of the everyday and of the people who live everyday lives (as opposed to the idea that only the lives of the rich, famous, or powerful are worth preserving). 

However, his acknowledgement that the lives of the people he is documenting are in fact, elements of a play -- the play of Our Town -- blurs the line between fiction and reality. On the one hand, we might question if there's truth to what is being left behind for future generations if that "truth" is in a made-up play. On the other hand, the Stage Manager seems to be asserting that Art and Theater do contain deep truths, perhaps the deepest truths, in the way they can capture and present real feelings, real emotions, and real lives, even if those things are embodied in fictional characters.


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The Time Capsule Symbol Timeline in Our Town

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Time Capsule appears in Our Town. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
The Everyday and the Ordinary Theme Icon
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
...A new bank is being built and they’ve decided to bury some objects in a time capsule in the building’s cornerstone to preserve for posterity. They are including a copy of the... (full context)