For him the mystery was solved, because he understood that everything in life is love, even pain, especially pain. — Hell is the Absence of God

Christine Chao
2 min readJan 11, 2021

Arrival

Ted Chiang

Neil loved his wife Sarah so much. While the life was so cruel that an arrival of the Angel one day had caused an accident which brought Sarah to the God accidentally. Neil was not a God-lover while he now faced a problem that if he didn’t love God, he cannot meet Sarah again in the Heaven. He then finally decided to be a light-seeker when he previously knew where the Angel would appear. However, he was killed by the catastrophe the Angel brought and he finally was sent to the Hell, without love.

In terms of the God, the story described many examples for the disciples who loved the God and what they had experienced through the Angel or God. Someone like Janice, who lost her legs when born but restored by God one day. She was the person who was favored by God; Sarah was also a believer though she was not crazy as others. Out of imagination, she died because of the arrival of the Angel. Every time the Angel came would bring some fortunes and unfortunates, she was the one who suffered the unfortunate.

‘’ Neil even knows that by being beyond God’s awareness, he is not loved by God in return. This doesn’t affect his feelings either, because unconditional love asks nothing, not even that it be return.

And though it’s been many years that he has been in Hell beyond the awareness of God, he loves Him still. That is the nature of true devotion.’’

Hell is always expressed like somewhere horrible with devils or bad ghosts. By reading the story, we could know that Neil was actually not a bad person, the only one thing he do that contradict the world was not believe the God. Because of this, he was doomed to live in the Hell and apparently separated with Sarah. As for the title, hell is the absence of God, the Hell did not pointed the real Hell. Whereas to Neil, the place without Sarah had been already Hell.

Hell, picture from Wikipedia

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Christine Chao

我是大喬,目前就讀國立清華大學 —生活是用文字記錄每一次的成長與進步。 Christine in NTHU. My words record my life.