The title of the book introduces fate as a theme by referring to the old Mesopotamian tale of a man who confronts the inevitability of his own destiny. The man’s time to die has come, and he meets Death while trying to escape from her. Julian is like the man in this tale in that his journey is about the impossibility of avoiding a predetermined yet self-inflicted calamity. Julian’s grandfather committed suicide, and it is implied that this predisposes Julian to the same fate. After Julian decides to test the limits of what is socially acceptable within his privileged social group, he makes some attempts to repair his errors. Rather than fixing his missteps, he sinks deeper into a downward spiral that eventually takes him to the “appointment” spelled out in the book’s title: an appointment in Samarra equals an appointment with death. Despite the fact that Julian’s behavior angers his wife and isolates Julian from his group, none of his errors warrant his tragic decision. This reinforces the idea that Julian’s suicide had already been decided by fate.