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“The Appointment in Samarra” and “The Nine Billion Names of God”

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“The Appointment in Samarra” and “The Nine Billion Names of God”, at first glance, seem to be dissimilar and unrelated, but under further investigation you will find many similarities as well as many differences. Such as in “The Appointment in Samarra” there is a huge twist of irony making the story seem less serious and more comedic. These two short stories have very similar morals to their story as well, and these morals should be taken in to consideration in everyday life.

“The Appointment in Samarra” is a story death is telling us, and it is actually rather humorous.

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He, Death, is standing in a market place watching the crowd when he discovers a servant whom he has an appointment with tonight in Samarra. Death is surprised by this and gives the man a “start of surprise” which the servant takes as a threatening gesture. The servant now thinks he is going to die. Hoping to avoid death the servant goes to his master and requests a horse so he may then flee to Samarra.

His master complies with his wishes. The master then pays death a visit in the market place and asks him why death made a threatening gesture to his servant.

Death says, “That was no threatening gesture, just a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Bagdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra. ” This is the huge twist in the story giving it that humorous tone because this is very ironic. The servant in the story was scheduled to die, and he thought he was going to cheat death by fleeing the city. Yet to his dismay death is meeting him in Samarra that night. The moral of the story is that death cannot be cheated, and you should not try to change the outcome of an event because you may just make things worse.

In “The Nine Billion Names of God” a group of Tibetan monks want to buy a computer from a company run by a man by the name of Dr. Wagner. This computer, the Mark V, will sequence their alphabet—that they have devised in their centuries of work—in to ever possible combination of words no longer than nine letters and no more than three of the same letter in succession. By doing this they are figuring every name of god there is in existence. The monks have been working on this for three centuries and they want to use modern technology to speed up the process because, without it, it would take almost 15,000 years to complete.

They purchased the computer and two engineers, George Hanley and Chuck, to help them with the sequencing. After months of working the monks are finally near the end of the sequences. This is when Chuck finally finds out what is going to happen when the sequencing is complete: the world is going to end. At first Chuck and George argue about how this is an absurd idea and that it cannot happen this quickly or suddenly. Eventually, after much thought and consideration they come to terms with their destiny and now want to flee. Chuck and George figure out a way to escape the monastery, by horseback.

After a decent journey they finally reach the air port and can see the DC-3 at the end of the run way “like a tiny silver cross”. Before reaching the airport they turn around to recollect and wonder if the computer has “finished its run”, and as they do this they see “the stars going out”. At the end of the story the world ends. The monks knew this was going to happen and they wanted to speed up the process. This was not a good thing since the world was supposed to end 15,000 years later, since that is how long they said it would be without the Mark V computer.

The moral of this story is that you should not rush things and just let things go along at the speed they are meant to. At first glance most people would wonder how “The Appointment in Samarra” and “The Nine Billion Names of God” could be at all related in any possible way. But their morals are very similar. Both characters try to speed up a supernatural process or evade one, like how the servant fled to Samarra or the engineers trying to leave the monastery before the world ended. Some things are inevitable and they are going to happen no matter what you do.

Some are going to take time and others cannot be prevented and if you try and prevent it you may just make it worse. When comparing these “The Appointment in Samarra” and “The Nine Billion Names of God” you will find many similarities and differences. Some similarities include: that they are both fiction, deal with the death of one or many characters, supernatural entities, a surprise at the end, and a message or moral at the end of the story. Even though the authors of these stories have never associated with one another, or even were written I the same time period, they share similar concepts and share similarities.

In “The Appointment in Samarra” the servant dies in the end because he flees to Samarra to avoid death but really falls in to deaths plan. In “The Nine Billion Names of God” the monks speed up the end of the world with their new computer and kill everyone on earth by doing so. This also ties in to the super natural entities. In “The Appointment in Samarra” Death is a being that goes around and kills people when their time is up, and in “The Nine Billion Names of God” the monks research God; whom can be described as a super natural entity since he is all powerful.

In the end all of these similarities tie in to the stories great meanings: do not rush things or try to change and inevitable outcome. This is what each of the characters do in their stories: the monks and the speeding up of the end of the world and the servant trying to avoid death by fleeing Bagdad and going to Samarra. The monks were trying to change an inevitable outcome by rushing it and the servant tried to change an outcome by avoiding it. These morals are actually very important to think about in everyday life.

Most people just want to rush by things or use our modern technology to make things go by faster. Our modern society lives by this notion, and we have lost a lot from it. These short stories suggest that we should change that and live life at the speed it takes us and do not rush or avoid things. As most people would suspect these stories also have some differences such as: one deals with religion and the other does not, the tone is different in each, there is more characters in one, the treatment of the supernatural entities is different in each.

For example, in “The Appointment in Samarra” there is no religious characteristic, because there is just a supernatural entity by the name of Death whom goes around killing people when their time is up. On the other hand, in “The Nine Billion Names of God” the monks are religious men whom have a connection with God who has given them the duty to find all his names. Next the tone, in “The Appointment in Samarra” the tone is humorous because the servant tried to avoid Death but actually just fell into the plan.

On the other hand, in “The Nine Billion Names of God” the tone is completely serious and almost scary because the monks seem excited that the world is going to end. Next, the amount of characters in the stories; in “The Appointment in Samarra” there are three, the servant, Death, and the merchant. Then in “The Nine Billion Names of God” there are many and they all interact, but there are a few main characters: George Hanley, Chuck, Dr. Wagner, and The High Lama. Finally the treatment of supernatural entities is different.

In “The Appointment in Samarra” they treat Death walking around killing people and being an actually living being as a normal occurrence and it is ordinary. In “The Nine Billion Names of God” the supernatural entity, God, is treated as an extraordinary entity and they worship his all powerful nature. These short stories have ideas and morals that we should think about in everyday life. Their similarities and differences show that similar ideas are portrayed in different ways by different people. They each want us to not avoid the inevitable and go through life at the speed it takes us.

Cite this “The Appointment in Samarra” and “The Nine Billion Names of God”

“The Appointment in Samarra” and “The Nine Billion Names of God”. (2016, Dec 10). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/the-appointment-in-samarra-and-the-nine-billion-names-of-god/

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