Fate vs Free Will in the Nine Bilion Names of God and the Appointment in Samarra

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Is one free to do as one pleases or is one’s life destined to follow a plan? Fate means having no control over or one’s life, which follows some plan. Both Somerset Maugham and Arthur C. Clarke explore the role of fate as an unimaginable force against freewill where, no matter the choice of the matter, fate overcomes free will. In the short stories of W. Somerset Maugham’s “The Appointment in Samarra” and Arthur C. Clarke’s “The Nine Billion Names of God” both authors express their opinions’ on fate by showing characters attempting to escape the futility of their fate. “The Appointment in Samarra” shows how fate, despite the efforts of the servant to flee, overcomes freewill. The merchant unexpectedly runs into Death in the market and, in total fear of her, asks his master for a horse: “He will ride away from the city and avoid his fate” (Maugham 279). Again, the servant “I will go to Samarra and there Death will not find me” (Maugham 279). The servant makes a great effort to flee and avoid what he believes is his fate. Towards the end of the story, the master confronts Death for an explanation on why she scared his servant away. The narrator, which is Death, replies “I had an appointment with him that night in Samarra” (Maugham 279). Here, Death implies that his fate is inevitable. Second, “The Nine Billion Names of God” shows a similar outcome in the conflict between fate and free will. Two programmers try to flee for fear of being blamed for the failure of the monk’s project to bring about the end of the universe, only to realize that their efforts were in vain. The lama initially contacts the programmers because “the components are small enough to travel by air” (Clarke 304). This foreshadows that both the programmers are destined to aid the monks in their project as the Mark V machine seems to be suitable for the trip. The monks use the Mark V to finish

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