Novels About Fate or Destiny

Fate or destiny is compared and contrasted to free will in these novels. It might be a part of the plot, or characters might discuss the matter.

Novels About Predestination, Fate, or Destiny

Middlesex | Jeffrey Eugenides

Cal was born as a girl in 1960, and again as a teenage boy in 1974. Cal relates the story of her life and her genetic abnormality. She describes her experiences growing up as a girl with the emerging feeling that she isn’t fully female. She relates the history of her grandparents, whose union puts everything into motion.

A Prayer for Owen Meany | John Irving

John Wheelwright narrates the interconnected lives of himself and his best friend, Owen Meany. John admires Owen and tends to follow his lead. Owen is intelligent, charismatic, small, and has a high voice. He comes to believe he is God’s instrument, and has a premonition about the day of his death. He is convinced he must die a hero saving children.

Read “A Prayer for Owen Meany”

Tess of the d’Urbervilles | Thomas Hardy

After some careless behaviour on her father’s part, Tess is sent to seek help from the wealthy Mrs. d’Urberville. Her son, Alec, hires her to do some work. He makes unwanted advances for a few months before finally getting her alone one night on the way home from a dance.

“Whatever her sins, they were not sins of intention, but of inadvertence, and why should she have been punished so persistently?”

Read “Tess of the d’Urbervilles”

One Hundred Years of Solitude | Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The town of Macondo is new and isolated, and has a young, small population. The Buendia family is the focus of the novel, made up of the Arcadio’s–physical and active–and the Aureliano’s–intellectuals. One of the Aureliano children is clairvoyant, and there are elements of magic realism in the story.

Appointment in Samarra | John O’Hara

Julian English is a member of the social elite. He has too much to drink at a Christmas Eve party, leading to him throwing a drink in a man’s face, Harry Reilly. It turns out that Harry had lent many people money, putting them more on his side than Julian’s. He also used to be a suitor of Julian’s eventual wife. Julian finds that his status in high society isn’t as secure as he thought.

The Mayor of Casterbridge | Thomas Hardy

While intoxicated, Michael Henchard sells his wife, Susan, and his young daughter, Elizabeth, to a sailor. Eighteen years later, Susan tracks Michael to Casterbridge, where he has become the mayor. She hopes he will help give Elizabeth a start in life.

“She had the hard, half-apathetic expression of one who deems anything possible at the hands of time and chance, except perhaps fair play”

Read “The Mayor of Casterbridge”

Empire Falls | Richard Russo

Miles Roby runs but doesn’t own a small diner in Empire Falls. He is a nice, middle-of-the-road guy who is being cuckolded by his wife and who lives passively. The town (including the diner) is largely controlled by Francine Whiting, a shrewd, calculating woman.

An American Tragedy | Theodore Dreiser

Clyde Griffiths grows up poor with his evangelist parents. Starting in his teen, he is drawn to material things and excitement, engaging in activities his parents condemn. Eventually, he begins working at a factory owned by his uncle. Clyde keeps setting his sights higher, with work and women.

Read “An American Tragedy”

The Prince | Niccolo Machiavelli

Machiavelli sends his book to Lorenzo de Medici, a member of an Italian ruling family. Its purpose is to teach the most effective ways to rule and stay in power. It covers the various types of principalities and their merits, how to organize an army and keep them loyal and focused, how to deal with subordinates, and encouragement to be vigilant and leave nothing to chance.

Read “The Prince”

I, Robot | Isaac Asimov

Susan Calvin is retiring from her position as a robopsychologist. She is interviewed by a journalist. She remembers some notable incidents from her career, tracing the development of robots from the earliest model that couldn’t speak to highly advanced models that are similar to humans.

Read “I, Robot”

Jasmine | Bharati Mukherjee

Jasmine, twenty-four, lives in Iowa with Bud, her partner. He is in a wheelchair and she is pregnant. She relates significant events from her life from her birth and childhood in Punjab, her illegal emigration to Florida which begins traumatically, her move to New York where she works as an au pair and earns her own money.

The Killer Angels | Michael Shaara

The narrative covers four days during the American Civil War when the Battle of Gettysburg was fought. We are given the perspectives of several people such as Robert E. Lee and Joshua Chamberlain. We are privy to their motivations and beliefs regarding the larger issues involved like slavery, rights, and theories of warfare.

Slaughterhouse Five | Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Billy Pilgrim is a chaplain’s assistant in World War II who doesn’t like fighting. He is captured by the Germans in his first battle. It is at this point that he becomes “unstuck” in time. He is transported to various points in his life, including the war, an alien abduction, and a plane crash, among many others.

Read “Slaughterhouse Five”


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