The Dispossessed

Chifoilisk Character Analysis

A Thuvian scientist on Urras. It is Chifoilisk who warns Shevek that he is being “bought” by the Ioti scientists, and advises him to be careful of Pae especially. Chifoilisk tells Shevek never to write down his precious General Temporal Theory, lest the Ioti government swoop in and snatch it away. In this way, Chifoilisk is an ally of Shevek’s. Both Chifoilisk and Shevek’s socialist ideals make them suspicious figures in the eyes of the Ioti government—and, as such, both Shevek and Chifoilisk are themselves suspicious of their surroundings and the Ioti scientists with whom they work at the university.

Chifoilisk Quotes in The Dispossessed

The The Dispossessed quotes below are all either spoken by Chifoilisk or refer to Chifoilisk. 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 7 Quotes

It was difficult for him to distrust the people he was with. He had been brought up in a culture that relied deliberately and constantly on human solidarity, mutual aid. Alienated as he was in some ways from that culture, and alien as he was to this one, still the lifelong habit remained: he assumed people would be helpful. He trusted them. But Chifoilisk’s warnings, which he had tried to dismiss, kept returning to him. His own perceptions and instincts reinforced them. Like it or not, he must learn distrust. He must be silent; he must keep his property to himself; he must keep his bargaining power.

Related Characters: Shevek (speaker), Chifoilisk
Page Number: 228-229
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 9 Quotes

On Anarres [Shevek] had chosen, in defiance of the expectation of his society, to do the work he was individually called to do. To do it was to rebel: to risk the self for the sake of society. Here on Urras, that act of rebellion was a luxury, a self-indulgence. To be a physicist in A-Io was to serve not society, not mankind, not the truth, but the State. On his first night in this room he had asked them, challenging and curious, “What are you going to do with me?” He knew now what they had done with him. Chifoilisk had told him the simple fact. They owned him.

Related Characters: Shevek (speaker), Chifoilisk
Page Number: 272
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chifoilisk Character Timeline in The Dispossessed

The timeline below shows where the character Chifoilisk 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
...met last night, though he 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... (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
...member of the Abbenay Institute in physics, and that the two used to work together. Chifoilisk intuits that Sabul was a jealous older rival who meddled with Shevek’s books and theories.... (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
...sheltering him at the University. Atro and Pae insist that Shevek is a guest, and Chifoilisk chimes in to note that the Ioti Government “foots the bill” anyway. Chifoilisk stares at... (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 along even papers... (full context)
Freedom Theme Icon
Individualism and Isolation vs. Collectivism and Solidarity Theme Icon
...for a few days to prevent his becoming infected with any Urrasti diseases. Atro and Chifoilisk leave Pae and Shevek alone to talk physics. Shevek is delighted to find that he... (full context)
Freedom Theme Icon
Individualism and Isolation vs. Collectivism and Solidarity Theme Icon
The People vs. the State Theme Icon
...stop at the Fort in Drio, where Odo once spent nine years imprisoned. Pae and Chifoilisk tell Shevek that the fort has long been torn down. As they drive past the... (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
...to life on Urras. One night, leaving the dining hall after dinner, Shevek runs into Chifoilisk, who asks if he has some time to spare for a conversation. The two walk... (full context)
Freedom Theme Icon
The Failure of Utopian Ideals Theme Icon
The People vs. the State Theme Icon
In his home state of Thu, Chifoilisk says, the people are socialists, just like the Anarresti. Shevek argues that Thu is centralized,... (full context)
The People vs. the State Theme Icon
Chifoilisk warns Shevek against Pae, who is a “loyal, ambitious agent of the Ioti government,” and... (full context)
Freedom Theme Icon
The Failure of Utopian Ideals Theme Icon
The People vs. the State Theme Icon
Shevek counters Chifoilisk’s warnings that he is a “child among thieves” and a victim of Ioti profiteering by... (full context)
Individualism and Isolation vs. Collectivism and Solidarity Theme Icon
The People vs. the State Theme Icon
Chifoilisk asks Shevek if he has written the theory down yet, and when Shevek tells him... (full context)
Individualism and Isolation vs. Collectivism and Solidarity Theme Icon
The People vs. the State Theme Icon
Chifoilisk implores Shevek to come to Thu once he is finally able to see what is... (full context)
Freedom Theme Icon
The People vs. the State Theme Icon
Less than a week later, Shevek is informed by Pae that Chifoilisk has been summoned back to Thu. Pae wonders what it is that Chifoilisk did wrong... (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
...feels affection for Atro, he decides against discussing his temporal theory with the man, remembering Chifoilisk’s advice to keep his research to himself. (full context)
Chapter 7
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
...has allowed himself to be kept far away from the reality of Urras, just as Chifoilisk warned him. Shevek wonders how he can break down the wall between himself and the... (full context)