The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. Le Guin. Idea/reference map-in-progress of Amy Zucker Morgenstern,...

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The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. Le Guin. Idea/reference map-in-progress of Amy Zucker Morgenstern, no restrictions on use; please honor Le Guin's copyright in quoting from her book. References are given as (Chapter #:Page #), using the Avon paperback edition. by Mind Map: The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. Le Guin. Idea/reference map-in-progress of Amy Zucker Morgenstern, no restrictions on use; please honor Le Guin's copyright in quoting from her book. References are given as (Chapter #:Page #), using the Avon paperback edition.


1.1. Spaceship reminiscent of the prison they created as boys 1:6 Prison likened to “A moment without time, a place without earth” 1:7 Urras as prison 7:166 Anarres as prison: In an essay ("Science Fiction and Mrs. Brown"), UKLG says in an early incarnation, long before she wrote the novel, the proto-character Shevek lived in a prison camp. When she finally wrote the novel, “yes, in a way it was a prison camp, but what a difference!” Vea’s idea of freedom 7:177 “maybe it’s all jails here”—including university 9:236 “maybe all the prison walls will fly open” 9:238 “townspeople hiding behind ‘their’ walls” 8:206 His goal: to keep doors open 9:244 “you [Urrasti] are all in jail . . . you live in prison, die in prison” 7:184


2.1. Quarantine 1:1; Protect from infection 2:35 Shut out ideas, keep us unaware of our own assumptions (walls around thoughts) 1:13-14 “No comfort…at the foot of the wall” 4:101 Shevek's dream on Urras, of Urras: approaching a barrier, afraid 5:123-4 "Come up against the wall" (S frightened when Bedap mentions it, as if B has seen into his dreams) 6:131, 133; “up against the wall” 8:208 The wall is “all I see in your [Urrastis'] faces” 7:184


3.1. Is there any way to create a new (free) society without simultaneously locking oneself in?/locking out options? Anarres has both shut out the rest of the universe--declared itself free--and shut itself into prison (1:2).

3.2. Self-restraint, deliberately choosing, responsibility = freedom. "Are we kept here by force? What force--what laws, governments, police? None. Simply our own being, our nature as Odonians....And that responsibility is our freedom. To avoid it, would be to lose our freedom. Would you really like to live in a society where you have no responsibility and no freedom, no choice, only the false option of obedience to the law, or disobedience followed by punishment? Would you really want to go live in a prison?" (2:36)


4.1. 40: sharing, not having


5.1. observation that everything’s wrapped, on Urras 7:160 “Was all Nio Esseia [Urrasti city] this? Huge shining boxes of stone and glass, immense, ornate, enormous packages, empty, empty” 7:169 when shopping 7:170-1 hidden on Urras, evident on Anarres (like Abbenay: its contrast with the shopping street in Nio) 7:177 “he felt that he had not touched anything, anyone, on Urras in all these months” 5:117 Shevek to be kept away from everything, wrapped up 11:275

6. SEQUENCY AND SIMULTANEITY (physics of time) and its various analogies

6.1. An ancient paradox, Buddhist and Taoist: being and becoming, stillness and action, statis and change

6.2. Zeno's paradox of motion 2:23

6.3. Ethics

6.3.1. Promises ("the promise kept" 9:240) and responsibility are made possible by the coherence of time. S. learns it from his mother's breaking of the implicit promise, and her denial of coming home 12:303. (Takver attributes his strong valuation of loyalty to his mother's having left. 12:293) Breaking promises=incoherence of time (4:101)

6.3.2. Means are inseparable from ends, just as the two ends of a pulley are inseparable. Cause and effect, in both physics and ethics, are inseparable.

6.4. Structure of the novel: two threads of time, interwoven: linear because each moves forward in time, circular because each links to the other repeatedly. Life as both action and stillness, moving forward and circling back.

6.4.1. E.g., 8: What is hell? Joking response: Urras --> 11: Desar was right; Hell is Urras.

6.4.2. E.g., Music on Anarres: "Five instruments each playing an independent cyclic theme; no melodic causality; the forward rocess entirely i the relationship of the parts. It makes a lovely harmony." 6:142 Music on Urras, during march: "The singing of the front of the march, far away up the street, and of the endless crowds coming on behind, was put out of phase by the distance the sound must travel, so that the melody seemed always to be lagging and catching up with itself, like a canon, and all the parts of the song were being sung at one time, in the same moment, though each singer sang the line as a tune from beginning to end." 9:239-40 Salas's composition is realized by the Odonians marching in Nio.

6.4.3. E.g., Both chapter 3 and chapter 6 end looking at the moon--two different moons.

6.4.4. Etc.

6.5. Journey and return: inseparable

6.5.1. "the strange look of grief and recognition on [Shevek's] face" when he arrives on Urras (1:16)--both leaving home and returning there

6.5.2. Odo's epitaph: "To be whole is to be part; true voyage is return" (3:68)

6.5.3. "“An explorer who does not come back, or send back, to tell of his discoveries, is no explorer but merely an adventurer; and his children are born in exile.”

6.5.4. "But along with the unpleasant necessity of leaving Takver and the baby for sixty days came the steady assurance of coming back to them." (8:200)

6.5.5. "Look how far away he is, he always is. But he comes back, he comes back, he comes back..." (10:259)

6.5.6. "They might prevent me from landing [back on Anarres]. Some of them in PDC threatened that, today. Rulag [his mother] was one of them." "She would. She only knows denial. How to deny the possibility of coming home." (12:303)

7. Can you act like an anarchist in a propertarian setting?

7.1. Shevek thinks so at first. "I make the Urrasti behave like Anarresti" because he brings nothing (1:11).

7.2. But later, the reverse: "Did the money buy the politeness, as well as the postcards and the map? how polite would the shopkeeper have been if he had come in as an Anarresti came in to a goods depository: to take what he wanted, notd to the registrar, and walk out? No use, no use thinking htis way. When in the Land of Property think like a propertarian. Dress like one, eat like one, act like one, be one." (7:168)

7.3. Conversation with Chifoilisk: S. trying to bargain with the propertarians; C. asserting that he's been bought. (5:109-12)

7.4. Conversation with Keng: "I thought it would be better not to hold apart behind a wall, but to be a society among the others, a world among the others, giving and taking. But there I was wrong--I was absolutely wrong . . . . Because there is nothing, nothing on Urras that we Anarresti need! . . . There is no way to act rightly, with a clear heart, on Urras. There is nothing you can do that profit does not enter into, and fear of loss, and the wish for power. you cannot say good morning without knowing which of you is 'superior' to the other, or trying to prove it. You cannot act like a brother to other people, you must manipulate them, or command them, or obey them, or trick them." (11:278)

8. Differences between Urras and Anarres. Which are connected to propertarian-statist/anarcho-communist difference, and which are incidental?

8.1. Faces: more beautiful on Anarres, anxious and imprisoned/imprisoning on Urras 7:167, 184

8.2. How little stuff they have on A. Shevek's luggage on moving to Abbenay=coat and boots. (4:82-83)

8.3. Less connection to relatives—is this a necessary or accidental difference?

8.4. Computer-generated names—same question

8.5. Meals: two per day on Anarres, three on Urras—is this b/c of famine? 7:171

8.6. Nothing locked on Anarres 9:243

8.7. Wrapping vs. nothing hidden

8.8. Role and status of women--inferior on Urras, equal on Anarres

8.9. Pockets: Urrasti have lots (3:54, 7:165)

8.10. Language: rare use of possessive on A.

8.11. even the words for mother and father are more general

8.12. Ioti: all those vowels; richness, confusion. Pravic is less

8.13. melodious and also easier for reader

8.14. Different metaphors for “better”: U. “higher,” A “more central” 1:12

8.15. No taboo on scatological language on A, yes on U 5 120

8.16. (ironic; A means something different by “excremental”)

8.17. Odo’s statue: editing her work (not in a heroic pose); on a bench where

8.18. anyone can sit beside her