Summary Of The Short Story 'The Knowners'

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The short story, “The Knowners,” is a fictional tale of an alternate reality where mankind has invented a technology which can divine the exact day, upon which a person will die. The story focuses on the impact upon one woman’s life from knowing her own ‘expiration date.’ The story was written by Helen C. Phillips.

The first person point of view of Ellie, that the story is told in, allows the reader to truly get a feeling for how the character’s life is affected by her choice. From her internal thoughts and observations, the reader is given knowledge of the exact extent to which Ellie’s own mortality affects her thoughts, actions, and enjoyment of her whole life. The impact of the knowledge is best demonstrated when the reader is told,
“Yet …show more content…

The brevity of the two characters dialogue shows that they are close as only a married couple can be and that they operate on a similar enough wavelength that only a minimal amount of words are required to convey their thoughts, feelings, and emotions to each other. A great example of this is when 7 days before the prophesized day three words between the two are able to set the final act of the story
“‘Tem,’ I choked.

‘You okay?’ he said.

And then he realized.” (Phillips, Chapter 2, Paragraphs 18-20)
That this short exchange allows Tem to realize that the date is finally upon them, helps characterize the love and understanding that exists in the relationship between Ellie and Tem, showing that they are as close as any two people can be.

The theme presented to the reader in “The Knowers,” is that focusing on the inevitability of death, stops a person from ever truly enjoying life. This theme is demonstrated by many aspects of the short story. From the direct inclusion of Ellie stating that the knowledge of the date was an ever-present thought in her mind, to the writing style choices, which direct the reader’s focus to the points in Ellie’s life that are most affected by the knowledge of the precise boundaries of her

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