The Promise of Death

Another thought on The Promise:

What’s up with the chapter list that starts the book??

By no means novel (though I do feel like they used to be more common?), what distinguishes its appearance in this novel (heyo) is how it treads into spoiler territory.

By the second chapter, observant readers will notice each of the book’s four sections are named after the character whose funeral that section depicts. In other words, by the time “Pa” dies, one need only flip back to the introductory table of contents to find out that Astrid and Anton will soon be six feet under.

Which contrasts with the fact that each of their deaths reads as somewhat surprising within the context of the writing. 

As such, placing the to-die list in the front of the story gives their demise a tragic inevitability, perhaps positioning their doomed fate as a form of comeuppance, for their sin of refusing to bestow their land unto its rightful owners.

This framework of historical karma is open to the interpretation that our actions are always being watched and judged by higher beings; “history has its eyes on you” becomes “ancestors have their eyes on us.”

Which relates to the question of who’s narrating, specifically from whose perspective the story is told…

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