Throughout the short story the presence of multiple literary elements of writing such as theme, character, symbolism, and conflict are all evident. However, in my opinion, the most prevalent element is conflict- both external and internal.

The basis of this story is somewhere in the future where time rules all and a tight schedule needs to be kept. Each person has a certain amount of time allotted for their lifetime. When their time is gone they die. The Ticktockman is responsible for “turning you off” when you run out of time. Schedules are so important that being late is a crime. For example, if someone is 10 minutes late to a meeting they lose ten minutes off their life.

The Harlequin is faced with an internal conflict as he decides if he should conform to society or be true to himself. He believes that people should be able to relax and live life at their own pace. “Don’t be slaves of time, it’s a helluva way to die, slowly, by degrees…down with the Ticktockman” (Page 8.) We’re born, we live, and we die. His society believes that what they accomplish between life and death is optimized relative to time management skills as opposed to valuing their success based upon quality of life lived. He was tired of being told what to do and where to be all the time, “…and one day we no longer let time serve us, we serve time and we are slaves of the schedule…” (Page 5).

Once the Harlequin decided he wanted to start a revolution by defying the schedule the external conflict presents itself in the form of the Ticktockman coming after him. He is eventually caught and tortured into conforming to society. However, while the Ticktockman was punishing the Harlequin for messing up the schedule, he himself delayed the schedule 3 minutes. After all is said and done even though the Harlequin was caught and forced to conform, he still changed the world by three minutes; he didn’t give up hope.



Ellison, Harlan. “Repent, Harlequin! Said the Ticktockman.”