Analysis

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 266

The Immortalists explores the question of whether it is a blessing or a curse to know the exact day you will die. When four young siblings visit a fortuneteller and gain this information about themselves, the novel becomes and increasingly complex exploration of life and our ability to control our own destinies. The novel leaves open the question of whether the fortune teller truly had the power to know people’s destinies or whether, instead, she was simply a fraud. Yet with knowledge of their deaths in hand, the Golds make a series of life choices that guide them to their deaths on the days the fortune teller prescribed. The Gold children are young when they visit the fortune teller, and so they grow up aware, unlike other children, of life’s impermanence and their own immortality.

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In traditional thought, the knowledge of one’s death is forbidden knowledge—knowledge that belongs only to the gods. Does the knowledge empower the Golds? Or does it, in a sense, enslave them? The novel examines this question. All four of the Golds become obsessed with making the right choices and making their lives count. Thus, it appears that possessing knowledge of their death dictates, to a large extent, the choices they make in their lives. If the fortune teller is a fraud, then the fortunes she gave the Golds became self-fulling prophesies. Readers are left to ponder whether they died on the date they were told they would die because, armed with forbidden knowledge, they were doomed to made life choices that would propel them in that direction.

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