The Time Machine

The Time Machine Chapter 2 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The narrator reflects that nobody believed the Time Traveller at the time because he was considered to be too clever, or not serious enough, to be credible. However, none of the dinner guests could get the notion out of their minds, and none forgot the disappearance of the model. The narrator receives another dinner invitation from the Time Traveller for the next Thursday, and, of course, he goes.
This passage makes clear that, while the Time Traveller belongs to the British upper class, he doesn’t entirely fit in with his fellow elites. The others disbelieve the Time Traveller not just because time travel is an unbelievable concept, but because they consider him to be odd and eccentric. This shows the rigidity of social expectations in Victorian England.
Themes
Inequality and Social Class Theme Icon
When the narrator arrives at the Time Traveller’s house, one of the dinner guests is holding a note from the Time Traveller asking the guests to proceed with dinner, and saying that he will explain why he is late once he arrives. As they sit down to dinner, one guest skeptically explains what happened with the model time machine to the guests who weren’t there the previous week. In the midst of this explanation, the Time Traveller limps through the doorway, looking dirty, beat-up, and upset. He tells the guests that he is going to wash up and change and then he will explain what happened to him.
The Time Traveller has assembled a room full of elites to be present once he returns from time travelling. This is even more obvious than the previous week—everyone in the room is influential and highly educated. The guests include a journalist and an editor, people who can tell his story, and a doctor and a psychologist, who, since they are trained in science, could credibly verify his account. It seems that the Time Traveller has assembled these skeptics in order that his adventures might become known and spread.
Themes
Inequality and Social Class Theme Icon
Technology and Progress Theme Icon
While the Time Traveller is washing up, his guests speculate about what has happened to him, generally mocking the notion that he could actually have been time traveling. The Time Traveller returns and eats vigorously before telling the guests that he will tell the story, but only if there are no arguments or interruptions because he is so exhausted. The guests agree, and the Time Traveller admits that what he says will sound like a lie, but he claims it is the absolute truth.
The Time Traveller, who proves himself to be rigorously committed to questioning and re-assessing his ideas based on evidence, must be very tired in order to ask his guests not to question his account. This lends an urgency to the tale he is about to tell. The Time Traveller’s concession that he knows his story will sound like a lie shows that he is now concerned (unlike last week) with whether others believe him—showing the importance of what he is about to say.
Themes
Technology and Progress Theme Icon