The Final Proof of Fate and Circumstance Summary

Lee K. Abbott


(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Tyler is telling his wife, Nadine, a story that his father has told him many times before. Tyler passes his Daddy’s stories on to Nadine, taking on the role of storyteller that Daddy has practiced for many years and that has become the basis of their father-son relationship.

Tyler starts by narrating one of Daddy’s most compelling stories, in which Daddy killed a man in a tragic car accident when he was twenty-eight years old. What makes Tyler’s rendition of the story so engaging is the quality of detail he occasionally adds to his father’s story: “His car, as I now imagine it, must have been a DeSoto or a Chrysler, heavy with chrome and a grill like a ten-thousand-pound smile.” As Daddy was meditating on some of the joys and tragedies of his life, he rounded a corner of a county road at high speed and smashed into a car, sending it some fifty yards down a gully. After realizing he was not hurt, he began the grim task of trying to find the driver’s body. His anxiety increasing, he came on the body of the ironically named Morris E. Valentine, who, although still warm, was quite dead.

Tyler tells Nadine that Daddy had told him that story again today, as father and son were sipping on a bottle of Oso Negro rum, the best thing to drink while reminiscing, in their opinion. Tyler gradually begins to realize the profound experience he is having with his father on this particular day: “I was in that cozy place few get to these days . . . that place where your own father admits to being a whole hell of a lot like you.” Once Daddy is able to acknowledge their emotional and psychological identification, he tells Tyler a story he has told no one, not even Elaine, his present wife and Tyler’s mother.

Daddy relates this brand-new story in a third-person narrative, calling the main character “X.” Tyler immediately recognizes X as his own father, but he makes no attempt to get his father to admit to that fact. It is Daddy’s way of revealing to his son the...

(The entire section is 820 words.)