The Sun Is Also a Star begins by explaining that according to famed scientist Carl Sagan, in order to make an apple pie from scratch, one must invent the entire universe and the entirety of human history—he defines "scratch" as the absence of everything. By beginning the novel in this way, Yoon asserts that everything, from humans to their history, is intrinsically connected. Per Sagan's example, the existence today of apple pies hinges on everything from the Big Bang to the emergence of farming and the ensuing discovery of butter. By beginning the novel this way, and by then building in structural elements that allow the reader insight into how different events and characters connect to each other, Yoon makes it very clear that everything in the world of her novel is connected to everything else. This interconnectedness is what can create chains of events that can, in retrospect, be read as the work of fate or destiny.
Daniel believes wholeheartedly that the world is connected by energy and love as represented by some sort of divine being, and he believes that everything is possibly predestined. Despite the fact that Natasha is a scientifically minded and nonreligious person, she does believe that everything in the universe is basically connected—though her reasoning and evidence differs significantly from Daniel's. In Natasha's understanding, the fact that the universe exists at all is the work of random events that just happened to coincide with each other in such a way that caused significant events in world history to happen. Essentially, though everything is connected, it's connected only by chance, not through the work of any guiding force.
To suggest that Daniel's worldview is somewhat more correct, Yoon often describes the same situation or occurrence from multiple points of view—first from a perspective where the occurrence appears random and happenstance, and then from the perspective of the other person in question in the given event. This is most notable in the case of Donald Christainsen, who appears to Natasha and Daniel to be nothing more than a distracted driver of a white BMW who almost hits a similarly distracted Natasha. However, when Yoon includes a chapter from Mr. Christainsen's perspective, the reader learns that he's not just distracted for no reason: he's drunk and overcome with grief for his daughter, who died two years ago in an accident involving a driver who was texting. In the case of Donald Christainsen, he also doesn't stop influencing Daniel and Natasha's lives after almost hitting Natasha. Later in the day he actually hits and injures the attorney Jeremy Fitzgerald, who is supposed to both advocate for Natasha's immigration issue and interview Daniel for admission to Yale. This shows clearly that even if Natasha and Daniel never learn the name or the story of the man in the white BMW, he still has the power to change their lives, for better or for worse. By providing this backstory, Yoon suggests that people's lives absolutely connected to each in myriad ways that may seem mysterious to an outside observer but, when considered in the context of the wider world, reveal a more obvious sense of cause and effect.
Even if Natasha's rational nature means that she disagrees with the existence of destiny for scientific reasons, the fact that most of the novel's characters, including her, experience the feeling that what's happening must be predestined suggests that destiny exists within the world of the novel, whether the characters believe in it or not. However, the novel ultimately suggests that scale is an important factor when looking at the role of destiny in one's life, particularly in regards to time: one of its final conclusions is that the ability to identify "destiny" often doesn't emerge until many years have passed and many events have taken place that lead to an ultimate conclusion. Though Daniel and Natasha conclude at the end of their day in New York City that they must not have been destined to be together, since Natasha's family ultimately leaves the country, their meeting ten years later on an airplane suggests that it wasn't that they weren't destined to be together whatsoever; they just weren't destined to be together until much later in their lives. This turn of events, especially when considered alongside the role that Donald Christainsen and others play in Natasha's day in New York, suggests that within the world of the novel, destiny absolutely exists. However, the ways in which destiny plays out over the course of hours, months, and years, depending on the events in question, suggests ultimately that seeing or believing in destiny is a matter of perception. Though destiny affects everyone, destiny exists differently for those who look for it—and those who look for it and truly believe are able to find a unique sense of comfort and acceptance.
Interconnectedness and Destiny ThemeTracker
Interconnectedness and Destiny Quotes in The Sun is Also a Star
One day in the future, the meaning of irie will move on, and it will become just another word with a long list of archaic or obsolete definitions. "Is everything irie?" someone will ask you in a perfect American accent. "Everything's irie," you will respond […] Neither of you will know about Abraham or the Rastafari religion or the Jamaican dialect. The word will be devoid of any history at all.
Maybe I should give up. I don't know why I haven't yet. The universe is clearly trying to save me from myself. I bet if I looked for signs about parting ways, I would find them.
When Natasha decides to wear hers in an Afro, it's not because she's aware of all this history. She does it despite Patricia Kingsley's assertions that Afros make women look militant and unprofessional. Those assertions are rooted in fear—fear that her daughter will be harmed by a society that still so often fears blackness.
"Doesn't matter. People always ask where I'm from. I used to say here, but then they ask where are you really from, and then I say Korea. Sometimes I say North Korea and that my parents and I escaped from a water dungeon filled with piranhas where Kim Jong-un was holding us prisoner."
Of all the ways today could've gone, I couldn't have predicted this. But now I'm sure that everything that's happened today has been leading me to her and us to this moment and this moment to the rest of our lives.
Even Charlie's academic probation from Harvard feels like it's part of the plan to get us to this point.
In modern times, the sisters have largely disappeared from the collective consciousness, but the idea of Fate hasn't. Why do we still believe? Does it make tragedy more bearable to believe that we ourselves had no hand in it, that we couldn't have prevented it? It was always ever thus.
The sheer number of actions and reactions it's taken to form our solar system, our galaxy, our universe, it's astonishing. The number of things that had to go exactly right is overwhelming.
Compared to that, what is falling in love? A series of small coincidences that we say means everything because we want to believe that our tiny lives matter on a galactic scale.
Yes, she'd been frustrated with him for years, but that one moment showed us all how far apart they really were now. Even Peter, who sides with my mother in all things, flinched a little.
Still. You couldn't fault her. Not really. My father had been dreaming his life away for years. He lived in those plays instead of the real world. He still does. My mother didn't have time for dreaming anymore.
Neither do I.
Before these buildings were buildings, they were just the skeletons of them. Before they were skeletons, they were crossbeams and girders. Metal and glass and concrete. And before that, they were construction plans. Before that, architectural plans. And before that, just an idea someone had for the making of a city.
"I think all the good parts of us are connected on some level. The part that shares the last double chocolate chip cookie or donates to charity or gives a dollar to a street musician or becomes a candy striper or cries at Apple commercials or says I love you or I forgive you. I think that's God. God is the connection of the very best parts of us."
Sometimes I think my mom's worst fear is being disappointed. She combats this by trying her hardest never to get her hopes up, and urging everyone else to do the same.
"My parents are immigrants. They moved to this country for a better life. They work all the time so my brother and I can have the American Dream. Nowhere in the American Dream does it say you can skip college and become a starving artist."
"Yes," I say. "He would." But not because he's evil. And not because he's a Stereotypical Korean Parent. But because he can't see past his own history to let us have ours.
From this distance, the city looks orderly and planned, as if all of it were created at one time for one purpose. When you're inside it, though, it feels like chaos.
"What I care about is you, and I'm sure that love is enough to overcome all the bullshit. And it is bullshit. All the handwringing. All the talk about cultures clashing or preserving cultures and what will happen to the kids. All of it is one hundred percent pure, unadulterated bullshit, and I just refuse to care."
Because everything looks like chaos up close. Daniel thinks it's a matter of scale. If you pull back far enough and wait for long enough, then order emerges.
Maybe their universe is just taking longer to form.