All the Names


One of the main themes in All the Names, shown through Senhor José's journey in piecing together the life of the unknown woman and the effects she had on other people/things, as well as the registry's conclusion that the living and dead's files should be put together as one, is that in order to be properly looked at, the human condition must include the lives of the living and the dead, the remembered and the forgotten, and the known and unknown. Indeed, this is a recurring theme in Saramago's works.

Another theme is the absurdity of human action. As Saramago puts it:

"Strictly speaking, we do not make decisions, decisions make us. The proof can be found in the fact that, though life leads us to carry out the most diverse actions one after the other, we do not prelude each one with a period of reflection, evaluation and calculation, and only then declare ourselves able to decide if we will go out to lunch or buy a newspaper or look for the unknown woman.[1]"

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