Hrafnkel’s Choices and How they Shaped his Fate
The translator of Hrafnkel’s Saga states in the introduction of the book that “each character is responsible for his own fate.” This is demonstrated through several characters in Hrafnkel’s Saga, but it is shown most obviously and continuously in the main character himself, Hrafnkel. He shows this in the early parts of the story through his pride and arrogance as they lead to his downfall. It is shown again after Hrafnkel’s downfall when he makes changes to his lifestyle, which leads to him being able to regain the power and respect he once had. Hrafnkel repeatedly makes choices that affect his life, whether in great or small ways; and all of these choices are what shaped Hrafnkel’s fate.
Hrafnkel’s first action that affected his fate happens very early on, on only the second page of the story (pg. 36 of the whole book). It was when he returned home to his father after traveling and requested his father divide up his properties so Hrafnkel could start a farm of his own. This choice affected almost everything else that followed in his life. The valley he started the farm in is where he ended up meeting his wife and starting his family. It would also become the place where he murders a man and is brought to justice. His next choice is on that same place and it was that he gained possession of and then sold land to other settlers in order to become the priest of chieftain of that valley.
Much later on in Hrafnkel’s life, but only a couple pages further into the story, he makes his next important decision. On page 39 a young man named Einar rides to Adalbol, Hrafnkel’s farm, to request employment from him. Hrafnkel had already hired servants for most of the jobs he had available, but since he liked Einar he hired him for the only job he had left available, a shepherd. This decision would turn out to be a near fatal one, as this is the young man Hrafnkel murders.
Hrafnkel was a very religious man and praised the god Frey above all else. He gave a half share of everything that was his to Frey, including his favorite horse. He named his horse Freyfaxi in honor of the goddess. This dedication to the gods and to his favorite horse leads to another vital choice Hrafnkel makes, which is the oath he swears that he will kill any person who rides his stallion.
Hrafnkel’s next choice is perhaps the most important choice made of any character in the entire story. It occurs on pages 42 and 43 of the book. He discovers that Einar has ridden Freyfaxi despite Hrafnkel’s clear warning that he had sworn a vow to kill anyone who rides the horse. He goes to visit Einar to confront him and Einar confesses immediately to his actions. Though Hrafnkel does not want to kill Einar, his word is much more important than his liking for the young man. Hrafnkel then dismounted his horse and made that key decision, so he then killed Einar.
After Hrafnkel kills Einar, Einar’s father Thorbjorn rides...