Connie is unlucky in love. Like really unlucky in love. As in, multiple loves of her life are violently killed and everyone she cares about (her daughter, her niece) is taken from her. In order to love and be loved she needs to swoop into the future and have phantom sex and then even that gets taken away from her.
Loving in Woman on the Edge of Time is really hard. If, like Skip, you do manage to have a successful love life in this messed-up world, somebody'll tell you that you're doing it the wrong way and doctors will get their brain implants and force that love out of you.
Connie is considered crazy because she can't love.
Connie is considered crazy because she loves too much.
Connie has an invisible friend and believes she travels to the future. She may be mentally ill. But Woman on the Edge of Time is less interested in telling you whether or not she's ill than it is in showing you what happens to people who are considered mentally ill.
Even if Connie is schizophrenic, she's still a human being; doctors don't have the right to experiment on her brain, or keep her constantly drugged against her will. Is Connie really crazy for dreaming of a future in which you're not shunned or beaten or sneered at just because you're mentally ill?
Mattapoisett keeps Connie from going insane.
Mattapoisett leads Connie to insanity.
Utopias are always about morality; they imagine what the world would be like if it were more moral and ethical (and maybe had awesome flying cars). Mattapoisett is more moral because there's little inequality; people don't have power over each other.
But that raises the following question: what would it be moral to do to bring about this utopia? Can you hit somebody? Poison their coffee? Does utopia make Connie more moral, or does it make her willing to do terrible things?
Mattapoisett teaches Connie how to be more moral.
Mattapoisett inspires Connie to act immorally.
Woman on the Edge of Time is not a fan of modern-day science. Scientists in the novel mostly seem to want to experiment on people and put implants in their brains.
On the other hand, Mattapoisett imagines a world in which science helps create a paradise—automation allows people to avoid unpleasant jobs; growing children in tubes allows for gender equality. So it's not so much that science is evil, as it is that a bad society makes bad science and a good society can use science to make things better. If Dr. Frankenstein had been born in Mattapoisett, he would have built a happy monster (presuming the council had approved his project).
In Mattapoisett, science has transformed society.
In Mattapoisett, society has transformed science.
Mattapoisett is a future society without class. Nobody is above anybody else; nobody is more important than anybody else. The elimination of class in Woman On the Edge of Time is presented as creating a perfect society.
On the other hand, back in the present, the novel suggests, the world is a miserable place because all kinds of classes—divided along lines of money, gender, and race—allow people to have power over each other.
Mattapoisett shows that a classless society would be a utopia.
Mattapoisett shows that a classless society would require tyrannical interference in people's personal lives.
You can tell "time" is an important theme because it's right there in the title Woman on the Edge of Time. And of course there's the whole part of the book where Connie keeps traveling to the future.
But the book also has a lot of flashbacks and memory—and a good bit of waiting around and staring at the wall (when you're imprisoned in an asylum, you do a lot of that.) So "time" here means not just the future, but also the past and the present. It's a time smorgasbord.
Connie travels to the future because she doesn't want to think about her past.
Connie travels to the future because she wants to revisit her past.
You might think that a perfect future wouldn't have a war, but nope, Mattapoisett's got one. The Mattapoisettians are still fighting the remnants of rich, nasty people. And because of that war, Connie sees her own struggles as part of a war, in which violence is necessary and justified.
In Woman on the Edge of Time, poisoning the doctors' coffee is part of an all-out war against the forces of oppression. Is Connie a hero? Or are her actions a criticism of the kind of heroism that we're supposed to admire in war?
The war is an imperfection in a perfect future, and it spoils Connie's present as well.
The future has a war because war is seen as necessary or good in some ways; it inspires Connie in the present to do what she has to do.
Connie is treated like dirt by everybody in part because she's poor, in part because she's Hispanic, and in part because she's been mentally ill. But she's also treated like trash by everybody because she's a woman.
Part of why the future is a utopia is that women are equal—and part of how they're made equal is by making childbearing and rearing the responsibility of both genders equally. Test-tube babies will set women free, says Woman on the Edge of Time.
In Mattapoisett, there is no such thing as femininity.
In Mattapoisett, there is no such thing as hatred of femininity.