Ursula K. Le Guin Discussion Topics

Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

In what ways would your life change if everyone became like the Gethenians in The Left Hand of Darkness, both sexes at the same time?

In several of her novels, Ursula K. Le Guin opposes a forward-looking, ambitious, and progressive culture against a quieter, present-centered, and slow-changing culture. If this opposition appears in the story you are studying, which group or groups come closest to representing each side? What are the advantages and disadvantages offered by each side? In which would you prefer to live? Which do you think that Le Guin herself prefers?

Often in Le Guin’s works, the main characters have to change in important ways in order to solve a central problem or overcome a key obstacle. Does this happen in the text you are studying? What is the main change that the character has to make? What makes this change hard to achieve?

The first three of the Earthsea books tell stories of quests in which the protagonist seeks knowledge and power. What does the protagonist want in the story that you are studying? Explain how this quest ends.

In the later Earthsea stories, protagonists seem mainly to search for self-knowledge. What does a main character in the story that you are studying learn about himself or herself during the story? Why is this self-knowledge important to this character and to the outcome of the story?