Study Guide

Memoirs of a Geisha Fate and Free Will

By Arthur Golden

Fate and Free Will

Memoirs of a Geisha spends a lot of time talking about ritual. And there's a good reason for that: the life of a geisha is super-ritualized, with hours spent putting on makeup, doing hair, and wrapping themselves in glorious silk kimono. But we can't forget one important part of a geisha's morning—well, afternoon, since they sleep until noon—routine: checking their horoscopes.

Geisha are a superstitious lot. Maybe because they feel like they got into the profession by a cruel twist of fate, they always want to take a guess as to where fate will lead them. As a result, they put great stock in their almanac.

Questions About Fate and Free Will

  1. Why are geisha superstitious? Do you think their fortunes are accurate or inaccurate?
  2. What do other characters, like Nobu, think of the geisha's superstitions?
  3. Have you consulted a Chinese almanac? What does it say about your day? Is it accurate or inaccurate?

Chew on This

Whether it's fate or not, Chiyo/Sayuri has no free will in geisha culture. Every major life decision is made for her.

Because she is told from an early age that she is like "water," Chiyo/Sayuri believes she can influence her life's direction, but she cannot fully control it.