11.22.63 Journal #7: Obdurate

Obdurate & Stephen King: The Use of the Word “Obdurate” in 11/22/63
with notes from reader 19

Dictionary.com : unmoved by persuasion, pity, or tender feelings; stubborn; unyielding. stubbornly resistant to moral influence; persistently impenitent: an obdurate sinner.

"Because the past didn’t like to be changed. It was obdurate." -- 11/22/63 (p. 159).

Obdurate–a fascinating word. Not one we hear in everyday conversation.

King plows new ground in 11.22.63 with the concept of time itself being obdurate. 

What if time wasn't a thing, like a block of wood or even a machine -- what if it was alive?  What if time was insulted when people tried to change it?  And, the biggie -- what if it could fight back?  What if the time line itself was able to protect itself against time-travelers. 

Examine this quote, and notice how the past is indeed alive:
"Because the past is sly as well as obdurate. It fights back. And yes, maybe there was an element of greed involved, too."
King also writes,
"The past is obdurate for the same reason a turtle’s shell is obdurate: because the living flesh inside is tender and defenseless." (p. 827)  Time protects the people within its shell.

Sadie picks up on the theme and tries to relate to it but she uses the wrong word–malelevolent--instead of obdurate. She hasn't experienced the obdurates of the past the way Jake has!  It has beat him to a pulp! 

The addition of time having will is something I suspect future writers will pick up on.  Watch out, Captain Kirk, next time you go back in time, it might not just be the Klingon's on your tail!

And then there is the Yellow Card man. . .


  1. King, as we all know, has written a lot of fiction that can be classified as being (at least partially) science-fiction. There hasn't been a huge amount of attention paid to this, although there is a book out there called "The Science of Stephen King."

    In "11/22/63," I think he's got some fairly compelling scientific ideas. OR maybe they're philosophical ones, I dunno. I can't say much more than that without going into certain aspects you haven't gotten to yet, David, but I can say this: King's notion of an obdurate past hints at another, larger notion which is really rather compelling, and while it isn't exactly unique in sci-fi, it's handled quite well by King here.

  2. So, Reverend, I take it you're finished, or is the finishing line in sight at least?

  3. No, I did not finish. I'm on 11.22.63

    But reader 19 is a great help. And. . . I peeked at a few portions on Kindle.

  4. Dude! What page are you on? I'm at... uh, let's see... 459! Really liking it so far, but I'm kinda ready for him to the nitty gritty of the story, you know?

    King does like his new word, huh? Like Bryant said, I think King has brought up some great scientific/philosophical questions related to time travel and the notion of changing the past to make a better future (if in fact, Jake CAN make a better future with his task) and whether the whole thing is even a good idea. Can't wait to find out what happens.

  5. The book definately has a lag in the middle. In fact, it's almsot frustrating how the book seriously slows down and feels like it loses focus.