J is for Jonbar Hinge – #AtoZChallenge

Jonbar Hinge, also known as a change-point, or a point of divergence, is a fork in the road.  An opportunity where a situation can go one way, or the other.  The expression is taken from the novel, The Legion of Time by Jack Williamson (1952) where John Barr, picks up a pebble, or a magnet.  Either object he picks up will be a major turning point in history.  Hence the term — Jonbar Hinge.

This particular literary device lends itself to scifi time-travel plot lines, and to alternative historical novels.

In US history, the Kennedy assassination is identified as a Jonbar Hinge.  What if JFK had lived?  Diane Kunz’ Camelot Revisited, and Niall Ferguson’s Virtual History: Alternatives and Counterfactuals both explore this theme.

A very blatant Jonbar Hinge is taken from the movie, The Matrix, in which Neo has to choose between the red pill, and the blue pill.  It is the defining moment of the movie and is what sets all things in motion for this trilogy.

What are some of your favorite Jonbar Hinges?


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Rochelle Written by:

Writer. Dreamer. Lover of Life. Photographer.
I bring all of these elements to my work and share it with you.
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  1. April 12, 2017

    Thanks for the info! I didn’t know there was a name for this. I think most fiction has these moments after the call to adventure, where the main character has to choose to act. I think it’s also deep human nature to think, but what if this had gone the other way…?
    Happy A to Z!
    J is for Jump!

    • April 12, 2017

      Hi Kaye! It’s so true. The human condition does seem to beg for “What if…” and we trot along behind it worrying ourselves over things that we cannot change. However, as an author, we CAN change things. We can create alternate story lines. That’s why I love scifi and fantasy! Jumping over to your post now.

  2. April 12, 2017

    Thanks so much for stopping by my blog so I could discover yours! I’d never heard of Johnbar Hinge, but I love the term already. It set off a whole discussion in my family about Johnbar Hinges in Narnia, Harry Potter, and the Hunger Games.

    • April 12, 2017

      There are so many instances of that pivotal moment in literature and in movies. When Harry Met Sally – would things have progressed as they did if Sally didn’t fake it in the restaurant? Would she have stayed in Harry’s mind all those years? 😉 JK. But, you get my point. Jonbar Hinge is kind of, everywhere, in all good creative works.

  3. Interesting! I didn’t know there was a name for that. Haven’t read that novel either. I’ve thought of it as the “road not taken.” I finished reading Neil Gaiman’s “The Ocean at the End of the Lane,” and there was a moment where the main character does something to his foot, and I think it’s very pivotal but it doesn’t seem to be at the time. So maybe that’s a Jonbar hinge. Although as I read this, maybe the incident needs to be an “either – or” rather than taking an action in different ways. Maui Jungalow

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