ENC 1102/ Fall Term 2012
“The Appointment in Samarra” vs. “The Nine Billion Names of God” In this world humanity is divided by cultures and religion, where for some individuals destiny is part of their beliefs and free will is not. As it is defined, free will is the power of making free choices that are unconstrained by external circumstances or by an agency such as fate. Destiny is a predetermined course of events considered as something beyond human power or control. These two stories “The Appointment in Samarra” by W. Somerset Maugham and “The Nine Billion Names of God” by Arthur Clarke are tied to the context of destiny which plays the most important role, and gives no room to free will. First of all, in the story of “the Appointment in Samarra”, fate is the essence of the merchant, the death and the merchant’s servant belief; they consider that it is part of their lives. This story emphasizes the theme that people cannot escape from fate with the irony of a situation created by the disagreement between what the servant thinks he is doing by going to Samarra and what he is really doing. The servant’s misunderstanding of death’s gesture in the market leads him to the belief that he can run away from the city: “I will ride away from the city and avoid my fate” (Maugham 279). Unfortunately for the servant, death only reveals at the end of the story that she made the gesture to the servant because she was surprised: “I was astonished to see him in Bagdad” (Maugham 279). This misunderstanding leads to the story’s irony of the situation where the servant believes he is escaping from death, but his action is actually leading him towards death’s appointment: “I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra” (Maugham 279). Maugham gives an implicit ending by implying that the encounter at the market is part of destiny and no matter what happen anybody cannot escape from destiny. In the same way, Clarke’s “The Nine...