Our Town

by

Thornton Wilder

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The Time Capsule Symbol Icon
In act one, the stage manager mentions that a new bank building that is being built in Grover’s Corners and that the townspeople have decided to bury some items beneath the building’s cornerstone, as a time capsule for posterity. What is included in this time capsule is thus significant for what the townspeople think is important about their town and community. They decide to include a copy of the New York Times, the works of Shakespeare, the Bible, and the U.S. Constitution. All these items testify to important events of the moment and the cultural identity of the townspeople (Christian, American, English-speaking and relatively educated). But the stage manager also decides to include a copy of Our Town in the time capsule. Doing so is a statement that the ordinary occurrences in people’s typical lives are just as worth preserving, remembering, and cherishing as major works of literature or important news events. And indeed, these are precisely the mundane things that Our Town, as a play, celebrates and memorializes.

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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer 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:
Get the entire Our Town LitChart as a printable PDF.
Our Town PDF

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)