Can I have a very brief summary of Gifts by Ursula K. Le Guin?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

While Gifts by Ursula K. LeGuin is science-fiction, it is also a coming-of-age novel about two young people, Orrec and Gry, Uplanders who talk with a man from the Lowlands and tell him of their strange "gifts": Gry can communicate with animals and Orrec has the power to "unmake," whether it be something so unimportant as a knot or more momentous as a living creature. Because he fears that he might use his power wrongly, Orrec wears a blindfold so that he will not see anything to harm. Similarly, Gry is silent, refusing to call the animals, only to have hunters kill them. 

Long ago, these gifts were given to each family to protect them from outside forces, Orrc narrates. While much of the narrative is myth-like in its depiction of the mysterious highlands that are suggestive of Scotland, there are developing relationships and a final surprising insight as Orrec realizes that his father knew all along that he really did not possess the power to undo,

You have the gift, you have the gift of unmaking! I don't. I never did. You tricked me. Maybe you tricked yourself because you couldn't stand it that your son wasn't what you wanted. I don't know. I don't care. I know you can't use me any longer. My eyes or my blindness. They're not yours, they're mine. I won't let your lies cheat me any more I won't let your sham shame me any more. Find yourself another son, since this one's not good enough.... 

However, when Orrec tries to actually use his eyes, he is unable. He and Gry depart, understanding each other more than anyone else can.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial