46 pages 1 hour read

Ursula K. Le Guin


Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2008

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Accepting and Resisting Fate

Content Warning: This section discusses child death.

The characters in Lavinia all have the opportunity to accept or resist their fates. Amata chooses again and again to resist, starting when her young sons die. She can’t accept their deaths, so she becomes cruel and unpredictable instead of settling into her role as queen. She tries to force Lavinia to marry Turnus despite all orders and omens forbidding the match. Her desire to control her own life complicates the plot but also demonstrates a certain strength. Like Amata, Turnus wants to resist fate, ignoring omens and Latinus’s explicit decrees that Turnus will never marry Lavinia. At the end of his life, Turnus changes, accepting his fate in surrendering to Aeneas. This decision makes Turnus a more sympathetic character in his final moments.

Lavinia generally accepts her fate, even though she knows that she must mourn Aeneas’s death after only three years of their marriage. She asks Aeneas once to give up his crown but immediately after making this request feels guilty for trying to change fate. Aeneas is likewise prepared to accept his fate, as he has been ever since the Trojan War. He followed Creusa’s instruction to go west, even when accepting his fate meant leaving Dido.