What are the main conflicts in The Left Hand of Darkness?

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Two of the major conflicts in The Left Hand of Darkness center around social prejudice.

The first is the conflict between the two lead characters of the book, Genly Ai and Therem Harth rem ir Estraven. Despite the fact that Estraven helps Ai multiple times throughout the book, Ai doesn't trust Estraven for the majority of the story. Ai believes Estraven to be deceptive and expects the alien to betray him. Ai's distrust is rooted in his Human upbringing, in which there are understoof to be two sexes (male and female). Estraven's people, the Gethenians, are neither male or female. (In the novel, Ai refers to them as "ambisexual.") Therefore, Estraven's gender rubs against Ai's socialized mentality surrounding gender and causes Ai's distrust. Ai must overcome his internalized, and socialized, prejudice against those who aren't male or female in order to overcome his conflict with Estraven. This occurs when the two travel across the frozen expanse of the Gorbin Ice. They depend on one another...

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on January 5, 2020