During my reading of Only Revolutions, I came across three “textured” words that stood out to me as being especially significant, tying into the larger themes of the story. These three words all appear to connect somehow to the mysterious bond which links Hailey and Sam across time and space.
The first of these words is, fittingly, “time”. Time may in fact be the most central theme of the novel, laying out the entire framework through which Hailey and Sam interact. The book weaves an intricate and seemingly paradoxical web of chronologies, showing interaction between Hailey and Sam when they are supposedly living many years apart from one another. In all, the word “time”, and variations on it, appear 118 times throughout the novel – 57 times in Hailey’s narrative, and 61 times in Sam’s. These references to time often correlate between narratives. For instance, during an encounter with “the Creep” on page 86, Hailey says that it is “Time to redeem me”, while on the same line in Sam’s narrative, Sam says that it is “Time to pay up”. While one interpretation is that these lines simply mean that the time has come to pay up and redeem Hailey, I think it is possible that time itself is the thing that must be paid. These lines almost seem to be hinting that time is some kind of commodity or possession of Hailey and Sam’s, something that “The Creep” (possibly a metaphor for death?) wants from them. The twisted, intertwined, non-linear nature of time in this story is a theme which has been used in fictional works before, as any Dr. Who fan should know. I can only guess that the story is suggesting that there is some sort of extra-temporal link between Hailey and Sam, and that their relationship to time is different than ours.
The second word I observed was “US”. This word seems to hold a special significance in the relationship between Hailey and Sam. Using Vizor, I counted 110 uses of the word in Hailey’s narrative, and 102 in Sam’s. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of this word’s use is that in almost every case, it appears in corresponding lines of both narratives. With only a few exceptions (8 instances in Hailey’s narrative, 4 in Sam’s), every time this unusual capitalized “US” appears in one narrative, it also appears in the other. Again, this would seem to serve in highlighting the link across time and space shared by Hailey and Sam.
The final word that I counted – simply for its strange appearance and role in the novel – was “honey”. Honey appears 19 times in each narrative, and in each case it is contained in sentences that are almost identical in both narratives. It also seems that honey is some sort of metaphor for the amount of life that each character has left to live, as both reference a depleting supply of honey that seems to correlate with the progression of their lives.
I found Vizor to be an extremely useful tool for this type of analysis, especially in that it displayed corresponding lines of each character’s narrative alongside passages from the other character. This made drawing conclusions about links between the narratives much more doable.