In the story, All You Zombies, there are many paradoxes that Heinlein touches upon. One being, the ability to travel back and forth through time. This jumping from one time to another would allow one to arrive at a time that he or she is already in causing there to be two of the same person at once. In fact, this is the scenario that occurs in the short story. It all starts when the bartender approaches a sad soul setting at the bar.
He asks the fellow to tell him what is wrong. Though reluctant to, the gentleman does after being persuaded to by a bottle of wine. The deal was that if his story was worse then the bartenders he could keep the bottle all for himself. This is a paradox because the reader finds out later in the story that both men are one in the same with the held of time travel. The bartender knowing this has nothing to loose because either way he wins the bottle of wine. Time travel, in this story, is symbolized by the ring that the bartender wares.
Like the ring, with no end or beginning, time, through time travel has no end or beginning allowing one to travel through out time with no interruptions. The ring was also said to be warn “to keep women off. ” This being that the bartender himself was once a woman(Jane) before he had an, unwilling operation. This operation was done after Jane had a caesarean and the doctor found out that she had “two full sets of organs. ” When Jane awoke to the bad news she was wrapped tightly in bandages causing her, know a him, to feel “Like a mummy. ” This mummy like feeling is the symbolism for the rest of his life.
Once a she now being restricted into a mans body with his life and his fate sealed with him in the bandages. Another paradox is when he says to the bartender, after being interrupted by him, “Who’s telling this story?” Although the reader, like the story teller, does not know that in fact, he is the bartender. So they are both telling the storybecause they are one in the same. This is made possible again by time travel, allowing him to be at two place at onetime.
The mystery finally unravels for him and the reader with this comment, “Now you know who he is – and afteryou think it over you’ll know who you are . . . and if you think hard enough, you’ll figure out who the baby is .
. . and who I am. ” With these words he came to realize that they are all one in the same. Though he is manydifferent people at once he still feels alone missing the innocent, childishness that he once had.
This is apparent when hesays, “There isn’t anybody but me Jane-here alone in the dark. ” This time travel all took place because the characterneeded to tell his sad story to someone. Being that he himself is the only one that would understand, he traveledback in time to talk it over with himself. Robert Heinlein does a good job keeping the reader in suspense by notallowing him or her to know that the characters are one is the same.