A pocket watch from Hiroshima had its hands blown off by the nuclear blast, but the time of its owner’s death was embossed forever on the clock face: 8:15. In Amatrice, Italy, a medieval tower stopped at the time the 2017 earthquake killed 250. Dickens understood the symbolic power of arrested time in Great Expectations: “There was a clock in the outer wall of this house. Like the clock in Miss Havisham’s room, and like Miss Havisham’s watch, it had stopped at twenty minutes to nine.” Faulkner’s Emily Grierson kept time on a leash, hidden in the folds of her dress. Her poisoned lover she kept mummified in her bed.
Of course, clocks stop on their own too. I gave up wearing one because, no matter what kind I purchased, it stopped running within days, sometimes hours. When I toured the Rhine Research Center, a paranormal expert studying electromagnetic fields said he had the same problem. Some people blame the spirit world.
People in my neck of the woods stop a clock when someone dies to block bad luck, possibly another death. In Seeing Things, Mary Catherine worries when her employer gives up the ghost, lamenting, “I hadn’t been in the room to stop the clock.” Bad luck was sure to follow her.