Literary Analysis

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Gage Moss
English 1302
Proper morals
“The Appointment in Samarra” and “The Nine Billion Names of God”, at first glance, seem to be dissimilar and unrelated, but under further investigation you will find many similarities as well as many differences. Such as in “The Appointment in Samarra” there is a huge twist of irony making the story seem less serious and more comedic. These two short stories have very similar morals to their story as well, and these morals should be taken in to consideration in everyday life.

“The Appointment in Samarra” is a story death is telling us, and it is actually rather humorous. He, Death, is standing in a market place watching the crowd when he discovers a servant whom he has an appointment with tonight in Samarra. Death is surprised by this and gives the man a “start of surprise” which the servant takes as a threatening gesture. The servant now thinks he is going to die. Hoping to avoid death the servant goes to his master and requests a horse so he may then flee to Samarra. His master complies with his wishes. The master then pays death a visit in the market place and asks him why death made a threatening gesture to his servant. Death says, “That was no threatening gesture, just a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Bagdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.” This is the huge twist in the story giving it that humorous tone because this is very ironic. The servant in the story was scheduled to die, and he thought he was going to cheat death by fleeing the city. Yet to his dismay death is meeting him in Samarra that night. The moral of the story is that death cannot be cheated, and you should not try to change the outcome of an event because you may just make things worse.

In “The Nine Billion Names of God” a group of Tibetan monks want to buy a computer from a company run by a man by the name of Dr. Wagner. This computer, the Mark V, will sequence their alphabet—that they have devised in their centuries of work—in to ever possible combination of words no longer than nine letters and no more than three of the same letter in succession. By doing this they are figuring every name of god there is in existence. The monks have been working on this for three centuries and they want to use modern technology to speed up the process because, without it, it would take almost 15,000 years to complete. They purchased the computer and two engineers, George Hanley and Chuck, to help them with the sequencing. After months of working the monks are finally near the end of the sequences. This is when Chuck finally finds out what is going to happen when the sequencing is complete: the world is going to end. At first Chuck and George argue about how this is an absurd idea and that it cannot happen this quickly or suddenly. Eventually, after much thought and consideration they come to terms with their destiny and now want to flee. Chuck and George figure out a way to escape the monastery, by horseback. After a decent journey they finally reach the air port and can see the DC-3 at the end of the run way “like a tiny silver cross”. Before reaching the airport they turn around to recollect and wonder if the computer has “finished its run”, and as they do this they see “the stars going out”. At the end of the story the world ends. The monks knew this was going to happen and they wanted to speed up the process. This was not a good thing since the world was supposed to end 15,000 years later, since that is how long they said it would be without the Mark V computer. The moral of this story is that you should not rush things and just let things go along at the speed they are meant to.

At first glance most people would wonder how “The Appointment in Samarra” and “The Nine Billion Names of God” could be at all related in any possible way. But their morals are very similar. Both characters try to speed up a supernatural process or evade one, like how the servant...
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