We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
GO TO SAT PREP GO TO ACT PREP
Tropic of Cancer

Tropic of Cancer

  

by Henry Miller

Tropic of Cancer Theme of Time

Ah, modernism. These guys and gals just loved thinking about and playing with time. In Tropic of Cancer, Miller references everything from the prehistoric era to a future filled with robots. And he does it in a totally nonlinear way, flashing back without notice so we suddenly find ourselves lost in a story with no clue when we are. That, combined with his vague philosophical statements about time make for a hazy and almost hallucinatory story.

Questions About Time

  1. What scares Miller more—the past or the future? Is he really ever able to live in the present?
  2. Check out how many different verb tenses Miller uses. Where is he in time? We dare you to make a timeline tracking the various stories he tells.
  3. In what way is Miller's use of flashbacks a way for him to comment philosophically on time?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

By dwelling so much on the past, Henry believes he can protect himself from the future.

In Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller is trying to escape the bounds of time.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...

Advertisement