Study Guide

The Natural Fate and Free Will

By Bernard Malamud

Fate and Free Will

If there is ever a place where destiny meets will, it's on the baseball field. Or basketball court. Or in the mud-wrestling pit. So many different factors can influence the outcome of a sports contest. In The Natural, the baseball player protagonist Roy Hobbs is a gifted player, disciplined, driven, and naturally talented. It seems like fate is just working against him. However, we do get to see, from the omniscient narrator's point of view, how some of his choices make him an active participant in his ultimate tragic destiny.

Questions About Fate and Free Will

  1. Do you think that Roy is cursed? Does he have any chance at reaching his goals, or is he fated to fail?
  2. What are the choices that Roy has made that lead him to selling out? Is there any point where he could have changed the novel's ending by taking a different path?
  3. Does Iris see her life as a result of fate? How about Memo? What does that say about the differences between them?

Chew on This

In The Natural, Roy Hobbs has no control over his destiny. Like a tragic hero he's fated to fail.

Even though Roy believes that fate is working against him, The Natural actually shows that it's his own dumb fault that his life ends up the way it does.