What does the traveler first think the Sphinx represents? What does he later learn about the significance of the Sphinx and of the many well-like openings he see throughout the countryside?
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The White Sphinx
The White Sphinx is a curious landmark in 802,701 AD. The Morlocks stow the Time Machine inside its enclosed bronze pedestal, so it becomes a symbolic and literal barrier for the Time Traveler, much as the sphinx blocked the entrance for the Greek hero Oedipus. But the sphinx has a direct relationship to the Time Traveler's plight; a symbol of futurity and of man's submission to God, the Egyptian Sphinx faces the rising sun god Ra each day in worship. The TT, on the other hand, must in some ways defy God by embracing rational science as he gains mastery over time, and he must also break into the sphinx to escape from the future and go back in time. An additional irony of the sphinx is that the future inhabitants of 802,701 AD still seem to worship an idol as they did in ancient Egypt.