"The eternal destiny of life" is death - no one can escape this inevitable end to life. Arnett sees his life as filled with failures, perhaps climaxed by the burning potatoes on the stove near the mantel on which he was leaning. Their smell and appearance are the final straw, and he "pulled the trigger." After the shot, Arnett experiences momentary regret and tries "fumbling for the world again" but it is too late. He is now in a place where he is no longer able to breathe even though his lungs are still capable of respiration. He discovers, too late, that escaping from the world in which he has been a failure does not allow for escape from death.