Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Fate and Free Will Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
It is a difficult thing to know the future. We see it reflected as in ripples of water—distorted and ever moving. There are moments, however, when the ripples subside and the reflection becomes clear. The Union saw one of those moments in your future that night in New York: you are destined to defeat Jefferson Davis, Abraham. You alone. Further, I do not believe that it is your destiny to die on this errand. (10.80)
Just when we were going to ask Henry and Abe for their stock predictions (since they seem able to see the future), we get this hilarious mistake. The vampires tell Abe that he's destined to defeat Jefferson Davis, so he should go kill Davis now. Well, yes, Abe does defeat Jefferson Davis—or at least, the North beats the South, which is close enough. But the vampires' interpretation that Abe is meant to go kill Davis? That's totally off. Sure, people have destinies, but maybe it's harder to read those destinies than folks are willing to admit.
In the course of a week, I greet a thousand strange faces in the White House. Should I treat each as the face of my assassin? Indeed, any man willing to give his life to take mine would have little trouble doing it. Am I therefore to lock myself in an iron box and wait for this war to end? If God wants my soul, He knows where He may collect it—and He may do so at the hour and in the manner of His choosing. (12.12)
The narrator describes this feeling as "fatalism," which seems accurate to us. Abe is saying that he can't stop his own fate and if his fate is to be assassinated, well, so be it. (Insert sad trombone sound here.)
[John Wilkes Booth had] always been obsessed with fate, particularly his own—due in large part to a story often told by his eccentric mother. "On the night you were born," she'd say, "I asked God for a sign of what awaited my newborn son. And God saw fit to answer." For the rest of her life, Mary Ann Booth would swear that flames had suddenly leapt from the hearth of their fireplace and formed the word "country." Johnny spent countless hours pondering the meaning of it. He knew that something special awaited him. He could feel it. (13.37)
Like Abe, Booth thinks that he's destined for greatness, thanks to something his mom used to tell him (and let that be a lesson: just because your ma thinks you're the cat's meow… ). But we probably don't trust her since the narrator calls her "eccentric" (which is fine if you're rich, but less fine if your son shoots a president). She, like Henry, might have a somewhat shaky grasp of destiny.