Saturday, August 13, 2011

More on darkness!

Again, about Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness.

SPOILERS

All about darkness! And shadows! We'll see how much I can cover in this post.

"But my brother's shadow followed me. I had done ill to speak of him" (75).

It's as though speaking about Arek summoned his "shadow". I don't know what to make of this...

"Darkness lay behind my back, before the boat, and into darkness I must row" (77).

Ignorance? Is darkness ignorance here?

"The Orgota coast came gray out of the morning fog [. . .]" (78)

I'm not sure if this qualifies as a shadow quote, although shadows do come in shades of gray...

Assuming this does qualify...then I don't know.

"I must learn to live without shadows as they do in Orgoreyn; not to take offense; not to offend uselessly. But I did not give him my land-name, which is no business of any man in Orgoreyn" (79).

Since he's talking about not taking offense and not offending (or anyways, not uselessly) I'm assuming that by shadow he's talking shifgrethor. Hmm, I think I'll run with that theory.

"In my part of Mishnory they broke the streetlamps, to keep their doings in the dark. But the inspectors' cars were forever snooping and spotlighting those dark streets, taking from poor men their one privacy, the night.

The new Alien Registry Law enacted in the month of Kus as a move in the shadow-fight with Karhide [. . .]" (81).

Why did they want things dark? So that they could move about in secrecy (and in doing so break the law, I assume). So the dark allows privacy, and secrecy. It allows people to keep things hidden, because it hides things for them.

And then there's something about a "shadow-fight". I guess it means a fight that...that what? Maybe it's to do with shifgrethor? Or maybe, following so closely on the previous usage of the word "dark", maybe it means a fight that is taking place overtly. If that makes sense...

"Our shadow grows too long. It will cover Karhide too. A feud between two Clans, yes; a foray between two towns, yes; a border dispute and a few barn-burnings and murders, yes; but a feud between two nations?" (85)

Obsle says this to Therem. Apparently the consequence of a long shadow will, in this case, result in war.

So what is a shadow? Power? Authority? It doesn't seem to be shifgrethor here...

"I felt as if I had come out of a dark age, and wished I had not wasted two years in Karhide" (115).

I think this supports my idea that Karhide is deeply influenced by the Handdara, and its "darkness."

So what does it mean to come out of darkness? To come into the light, where everything is visible? That's what Genly thinks is happening, although as he soon finds out he is totally wrong.

"This, at least, is the accepted explanation, and though like most economic explanations it seems, under certain lights, to omit the main point.

Commensal Slose's fiercely-lighted, high, white reception room [. . .]" (120).

First Genly uses "lights" in a way that we might. And then we see that the reception room is brightly lit. No, fiercely lit. The wording implies possible violence, or a readiness for violence, which indicates something about the Orgota government?

But of course, even though we see Orgoreyn described in terms of light, their practices aren't so visible. Maybe that's to show that too much light (or too much knowledge?) blinds a person?

...

Enough for now! I think I'm off to play with my ratties. :) I'll be back soon.

2 comments:

Magaly Guerrero said...

I have to get this freaking book...

Sarita Rucker said...

Yes you must! And then tell me what you think of it. :)

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