The Final Proof of Fate and Circumstance Themes

Lee K. Abbott

Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Lee K. Abbott clearly announces the story’s major theme when Nadine asks what is the moral of Daddy’s final story, and Tyler answers that everything is fragile. There is more to this lucidly complex story than Tyler’s explanation, however. The title of the story, “The Final Proof of Fate and Circumstance,” clearly explicates another theme of the story. The story is also about a son becoming aware that he is becoming his father, and few stories have traced that complex procedure better than this one. What unequivocally joins Tyler to his father are the stories that Daddy tells his son, which his son passes on to Nadine. In their crucial function as storytellers, they are identical. More important, however, Tyler begins to understand that life is a brutal process of fate and circumstance unless and until a voice structures it in humanly significant narratives. Tyler consciously comes to realize the lesson his father unconsciously teaches him: that life without imaginative narrative is a meaningless series of discrete happenings that has no point. Only verbal utterance gives life form and, therefore, meaning. Stories create reality. Abbott’s stories within stories brilliantly delineate the process of how the chaos of human activity acquires significance through the medium of language; without language, we are mere victims of fate and circumstance. “The Final Proof of Fate and Circumstance” is certainly a profoundly existential narrative.