Study Guide

The Man in the High Castle Fate and Free Will

By Philip K. Dick

Fate and Free Will

The flip side to "History" in The Man in the High Castle is Fate and Free Will. If the average people can't affect the big-picture of history, do they have free will? Or if they have free will, does their free will matter? Other books might hint at the theme of fate, but this book throws it into our face, particularly with the I Ching and how people use it. There are some characters who turn to the Oracle whenever they have a choice (Tagomi, Frink) and other characters who don't (McCarthy, Childan). But does that use of the Oracle affect their free will?

Questions About Fate and Free Will

  1. Does The Man in the High Castle show that fate controls people? Or do they have free will?
  2. Does anyone go against fate in this book? If so, do they succeed?
  3. Besides the I Ching, are there other symbols (or systems) of fate? God's divine plan? History?
  4. If Fate controls everyone, are there any lessons to learn from this book?

Chew on This

Childan makes the biggest choice in The Man in the High Castle, but everything that brought him to that choice was outside of his control.

The Man in the High Castle ultimately argues that we have to accept our fate, but also work towards it.

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