11/22/63 Themes and Analysis 🕤

’11/22/63′ is a book that brings out many themes like trying to fix the mistakes of the past, sacrificing for love, regret, and time.


Stephen King

Being a time-traveling book that focused on the characters and not the events of the past or the process of time-traveling and changing that past, ’11/22/63′ became a story that shows that trying to alter the past creates a dilemma that one would find impossible to wiggle out of especially because of the bond they have with people in that era.

11/22/63 Themes and Analysis



Choice is a theme in the story of 11/22/63.’ In the book, Jake made choices that directly influenced the present. Though he knew the repercussions of making changes to the past, he still chose to do them anyway by saving Harry Dunning’s family. Jake soon realized that even though he had the power to change the past, his choices intended for good did not do good.

Jake realized that choice and time-traveling was a paradox because, when it came to erasing past events, one’s choice always backfired meaning, there was never a good side to making that choice. Jake soon realized this phenomenon when Sadie died in his arms after he successfully stopped Oswald.

The Rigidity of The Past

The past has happened and trying to change it risks creating an entirely different present and future. ’11/22/63′ showed that the past is rigid and tries to correct itself as much as possible. Though time travel is still just a concept, the book showed what should theoretically happen when a slight change in the past happens. Jake tried to change the past, and his decision made him lose the love of his life and destroy the present.


Love is the main theme in ’11/22/63′ as it defines Jake’s actions because his love for Sadie made him make decisions he would have never made. Jake’s love made him realize that changing time should not be done as altering the past takes away the memories, and the bond one has with people.


Regret is a re-occurring theme in ’11/22/63.’ Jake decided to alter history to make everything much better, but he realized that changing time was the worst decision he had ever made. After creating more problems than solutions, Jake realized that the past was not to change. Jake’s regret haunted him as watching Sadie die broke him, and though he became an instant hero, he felt no satisfaction or accomplishment. Jake also regretted altering Harry Dunning’s past as him killing Frank Dunning, Harry’s father, killed Harry too.

The Will to Do Good

The will to do good is the main theme of ’11/22/63′. The entire story of ’11/22/63′ focuses on Jake trying to change the past. Though wanting to save the President, Jake also did other things like saving Harry Dunning from his father and a little girl from being shot by a hunter. However, the will to do good made Jake an antagonist in the story because his actions intended for the right cause ended up backfiring and causing the world to be a worse place to live.

Analysis of Key Moments

  1. Jake reads Harry’s essay on the night that changed his life.
  2. Harry graduates with flying colors. Jake takes him to Al’s restaurant, where they celebrate.
  3. Jake meets Al two years later, and they talk. Al tells Jake to visit him the next day.
  4. Jake completely freaks out on seeing that Al had aged rapidly in just 24 hours. Al tells a dumbfounded Jake he has cancer and tells him to travel down some steps to understand what was going on.
  5. Jake goes down the steps and lands in 1958. He meets the yellow card man as Al had told him. Jake spent an hour to be sure he was not hallucinating.
  6. Al tells Jake of his deductions from time-traveling using the portal.
  7. Al tells Jake of his plan to stop Oswald from killing John F. Kennedy, the President of the United States, in 1963.
  8. Jake agrees to take on Al’s mission for him and enters the portal.
  9. Jake tries to save Harry’s mother and sibling from their father, Frank dunning and succeeds.
  10. Jake realizes the past prevents itself from changing and that the greater the change, the more the challenge.
  11. On returning to the present, Jake realizes Harry died in the Vietnam war.
  12. Al commits suicide, making Jake hastily enter the portal to correct his mistakes.
  13. Jake moves to Jodie, Texas, where he establishes his identity in a bid to stop Oswald.
  14. Jake meets Sadie, and they fall in love. Jake rescues Sadie from overdosing and her abusive husband, Johnny Clayton.
  15. Jake tells Sadie he is from the future.
  16. Jake stalks Oswald.
  17. Jake confronts Oswald on the day of the President’s arrival and successfully stops him, but Sadie dies from a gunshot by Oswald.
  18. Jake becomes an instant hero, with the President and his wife personally thanking him.
  19. Jake returns to the portal where he meets Zack Lang, who tells him that changing and erasing the past did not change reality.
  20. Jake goes back to the present to meet the world in ruins. Jake meets Harry, who is now a war veteran. Harry tells Jake the disturbing history of what happened between 1963 and 2011.
  21. Seeing the world in ruins, Jake re-enters the portal in a bid to retry saving the President and Sadie, but changes his mind and returns to a present completely reset of all his changes.
  22. Jake travels to Jodie, where he discovers that Sadie survived the assault from her husband.
  23. Jake and an 80-year-old Sadie share a dance.

Style, Tone, and Figurative Language

’11/22/63′ is regarded as one of Stephen King’s best books because of its exceptional storyline and excellent language. With a subtle narrative tone, the storyline was able to unfold with the evolution of its characters. Using his epistolary writing and the first-person point of view narration, ’11/22/63′  maintained a consistent level of thrill and captivation.

Stephen King’s adoption of rich figurative language made his book resonate with pop culture and society. ’11/22/63′ adopts the use of metaphors and similes to create excellent comparisons synonymous with pop culture. Other figurative tones like personification appear throughout the book.

Analysis of Symbols in 11/22/63

The Yellow Card Man

Referred to as the obdurate personification of the past, the yellow card man represents a warning.

Throughout the novel, the past always tried to amend itself of any foreign observer, and with Jake being a man out of his time, the past threw its hurdles at him; this is where the yellow card man’s importance became clear. Because he was the guardian to the portal, the yellow card man was to be the gauge, the guide, the direction shower, but sadly because of his deterioration. Jake could not explain what it meant to travel and change the past. The yellow card man’s incapacitation led to Jake making so many mistakes he later found out could never be erased.

Picture of Harry in Al’s Diner

Harry’s picture in Al’s diner represents the repercussion of changing the past. Before he traveled back in time to make a change, a picture of Harry hung in Al’s restaurant after celebrating his graduation. After Jake changed the past, Harry’s picture vanished, which meant Jake erased one of the happy times in Harry’s life.

Cell Phone

Jake had to dump his cell phone into a pond because he was scared of getting questioned on how he had a future technology in his possession. The cell phone represents a piece of the future embedded in the past.

Sadie’s Scar

Sadie’s scar represents the toxic past one can never get rid of no matter what they do or how they try to be better. Sadie faced torture from her husband, and though it pushed her to become a cornerstone of society, she had to live with the pain of tribulation.


Did Sadie die in ‘11/22/63?’

Sadie was shot by Oswald when she and Jake confronted him. She died in Jake’s arms, and after leaving the past, Jake re-entered the portal to save her life, preventing her from dying.

What is the significance of the yellow card man?

The yellow card man served as a warning to those who wanted to travel to the past and alter it. However, because the yellow card man was incapacitated, he could not warn Jake of the dangers that came with time traveling.

What is the theme of ‘11/22/63?’

The main themes of ‘11/22/63‘ are love, regret, and the will to do good, among others.

Does Jake save JFK?

Yes, Jake successfully stops Oswald and saves the President, but he re-enters the portal, erasing what he did.

What is a Jimla?

A Jimla is a name that is given to people who try to alter the past. Jake was referred to as the Jimla by the yellow card man.

Joshua Ehiosun
About Joshua Ehiosun
Joshua is an undying lover of literary works. With a keen sense of humor and passion for coining vague ideas into state-of-the-art worded content, he ensures he puts everything he's got into making his work stand out. With his expertise in writing, Joshua works to scrutinize pieces of literature.
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap