All plots tend to move deathward. This is the nature of plots.

Jack’s closing statement to his seminar at the end of Chapter 6 reverberates throughout the novel. The statement initially refers to the assassination attempt on Hitler, but it quickly takes on a larger significance once it becomes clear that death is Jack’s greatest fear. Plot can be defined as “a secret plan”—as in, the plot to assassinate Hitler—but the word can also refer to a novel’s pattern of significant events. In most narratives, the central plot has a momentum, bringing the characters toward some kind of ending or resolution. Jack believes that all plots bring their characters toward death. We might take this formulation metaphorically, in the sense that the ending of a novel is, in some way, the moment when a novel dies. But Jack seems to interpret this comment literally, believing that he himself will die if he gets enmeshed in a plot. This explains, then, why the narrative seems to take a meandering, circuitous shape, actively resisting any major plot development. Details accumulate and characters develop, but not until the third section of the novel does an actual plot become evident. Once it does, however, the intrigue, mystery, and action quickly pile up, and the narrative moves toward death, just as Jack believed it would.