The Dispossessed

The foremost living physicist on Urras. A man of eighty, he moves and speaks with “the blunt self-assurance of one accustomed to respect.” Shevek and Atro have been communicating through letters for years by the time Shevek arrives on Urras, and the two are overjoyed to finally meet after so many years of exchanging ideas and theories. Atro is something of a mentor to Shevek during his time on Urras.

Atro Quotes in The Dispossessed

The The Dispossessed quotes below are all either spoken by Atro or refer to Atro. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Freedom Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Harper Collins edition of The Dispossessed published in 1974.
Chapter 5 Quotes

“The law of existence is struggle—competition—elimination of the weak—a ruthless war for survival. And I want to see the best survive. The kind of humanity I know. The Cetians. You and I: Urras and Anarres. We’re ahead of them now, all those Hainish and Terrans and whatever else they call themselves, and we’ve got to stay ahead of them. They brought us the interstellar drive, but we’re making better interstellar ships now than they are. When you come to release your Theory, I earnestly hope you’ll think of your duty to your own people, your own kind. Of what loyalty means, and to whom it’s due.”

Related Characters: Atro (speaker), Shevek
Page Number: 143
Explanation and Analysis:
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Atro Character Timeline in The Dispossessed

The timeline below shows where the character Atro appears in The Dispossessed. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3
Freedom Theme Icon
Humility and Moderation vs. Ego and Excess Theme Icon
Individualism and Isolation vs. Collectivism and Solidarity Theme Icon
...did not catch their names. They introduce themselves as Dr. Chifoilisk, Dr. Oiie, and Dr. Atro. Shevek is thrilled to meet Atro, and kisses the man’s cheeks. Atro embraces him, and... (full context)
Humility and Moderation vs. Ego and Excess Theme Icon
Individualism and Isolation vs. Collectivism and Solidarity Theme Icon
Shevek gleefully recounts the years of letters he and Atro have sent back and forth, comparing ideas and “destroy[ing]” one another’s theories. Atro reaches below... (full context)
Freedom Theme Icon
Humility and Moderation vs. Ego and Excess Theme Icon
Individualism and Isolation vs. Collectivism and Solidarity Theme Icon
The People vs. the State Theme Icon
...the Urrasti as a way to pay them back for sheltering him at the University. Atro and Pae insist that Shevek is a guest, and Chifoilisk chimes in to note that... (full context)
Humility and Moderation vs. Ego and Excess Theme Icon
Individualism and Isolation vs. Collectivism and Solidarity Theme Icon
Atro notes that Chifoilisk is an “unregenerate Thuvian,” and then laments that Shevek has not brought... (full context)
Freedom Theme Icon
Individualism and Isolation vs. Collectivism and Solidarity Theme Icon
Atro notes that no “offworlders” anywhere else in the galaxy can keep up with Urrasti physics.... (full context)
Individualism and Isolation vs. Collectivism and Solidarity Theme Icon
Atro brings Shevek a stack of newspapers, but after Atro leaves the room, Pae tells Shevek... (full context)
Chapter 4
Freedom Theme Icon
Individualism and Isolation vs. Collectivism and Solidarity Theme Icon
...a year at the Institute, Shevek presents Sabul with a critique of the Urrasti physicist Atro’s work. Sabul orders Shevek to translate the paper into Iotic, so that it can be... (full context)
Freedom Theme Icon
The Failure of Utopian Ideals Theme Icon
Humility and Moderation vs. Ego and Excess Theme Icon
Individualism and Isolation vs. Collectivism and Solidarity Theme Icon
...he runs into Sabul. Sabul holds out a book to Shevek—it is Shevek’s critique of Atro’s work, retranslated into Pravic and credited to both Shevek and Sabul. Shevek is caught off... (full context)
Chapter 5
The Failure of Utopian Ideals Theme Icon
Humility and Moderation vs. Ego and Excess Theme Icon
Individualism and Isolation vs. Collectivism and Solidarity Theme Icon
The People vs. the State Theme Icon
Shevek finds a comradeship in Atro—he visits the man’s home a couple of times a week, and the two discuss physics,... (full context)
The Failure of Utopian Ideals Theme Icon
Individualism and Isolation vs. Collectivism and Solidarity Theme Icon
The People vs. the State Theme Icon
Atro asks Shevek about his research, and when Shevek tells Atro he is working on gravitational... (full context)
Chapter 6
Freedom Theme Icon
The Failure of Utopian Ideals Theme Icon
Humility and Moderation vs. Ego and Excess Theme Icon
Individualism and Isolation vs. Collectivism and Solidarity Theme Icon
...his interests with him. As a result, Shevek begins spending his time writing letters to Atro, the Urrasti physicist, as well as other mathematicians and scientists down on Urras. Many of... (full context)
Freedom Theme Icon
Individualism and Isolation vs. Collectivism and Solidarity Theme Icon
A few times a year, Shevek receives a letter back from Urras—occasionally from Atro, and sometimes even from other scientists in both A-Io and Thu. The letters bolster Shevek’s... (full context)
Chapter 8
The Failure of Utopian Ideals Theme Icon
Humility and Moderation vs. Ego and Excess Theme Icon
Individualism and Isolation vs. Collectivism and Solidarity Theme Icon
...his original manuscript into one of them, addressing it to the attention of the physicist Atro. (full context)
Chapter 9
The Failure of Utopian Ideals Theme Icon
Individualism and Isolation vs. Collectivism and Solidarity Theme Icon
The People vs. the State Theme Icon
The next evening, Atro calls on Shevek. He warns Shevek against wearing himself out by working too hard, and... (full context)
The Failure of Utopian Ideals Theme Icon
Humility and Moderation vs. Ego and Excess Theme Icon
Individualism and Isolation vs. Collectivism and Solidarity Theme Icon
The People vs. the State Theme Icon
After Atro leaves, Efor comes to collect Shevek’s dinner tray. Shevek hands Efor a slip of paper—on... (full context)
The Failure of Utopian Ideals Theme Icon
Individualism and Isolation vs. Collectivism and Solidarity Theme Icon
The People vs. the State Theme Icon
...Shevek looks out the window and sees soldiers shouting orders to one another. He recalls Atro, months ago, explaining military organization—Shevek had exclaimed that it was a “coercive mechanism,” but Atro... (full context)