The Dispossessed

Sabul – Character Analysis

An Anarresti physicist at the Institute in Abbenay, and Shevek’s mentor. Based on the Anarresti principle of selflessness and no private property, Sabul co-opts Shevek’s ideas and attempts to keep him from communicating directly with Urrasti scientists. A slovenly man who is a hypocrite when it comes to the Odonian ideals of openness and sharing, Shevek detests Sabul, but understands that studying with him is the only way to open a line of communication with Urrasti physicists at all.

Sabul – Quotes in The Dispossessed

The The Dispossessed quotes below are all either spoken by Sabul – or refer to Sabul – . 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 6 Quotes

“We have no government, no laws. But as far as I can see, ideas were never controlled by laws and governments, even on Urras. You can’t crush ideas by suppressing them. You can only crush them by ignoring them. By refusing to think, refusing to change. And that’s precisely what our society is doing! Sabul uses you, and prevents you from publishing, from teaching, even from working. In other words, he has power over you. Where does he get it from? Not from vested authority, there isn’t any. He gets it from the innate cowardice of the human mind. Public opinion! That’s the power structure he’s part of, and knows how to use. The unadmitted, inadmissible government that rules Odonian society by stifling the individual mind… Government [is defined as] the legal use of power to maintain and extend power. Replace ‘legal’ with ‘customary,’ and you’ve got Sabul, and the Syndicate of Instruction, and the PDC.”

Related Characters: Bedap (speaker), Shevek, Sabul –
Page Number: 166
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 10 Quotes

“Neither of us chose [to surrender to Sabul’s authoritarianism]. We let Sabul choose for us. Our own, internalized Sabul—convention, moralism, fear of social ostracism, fear of being different, fear of being free! Well, never again. I learn slowly, but I learn.”

“What are you going to do?” asked Takver, a thrill of agreeable excitement in her voice.

“Go to Abbenay with you and start a printing syndicate. Print the Principles, uncut. And whatever else we like. Bedap’s [paper] that the PDC wouldn’t circulate. And Tirin’s play. I owe him that. He taught me what prisons are, and who builds them. Those who build walls are their own prisoners. I’m going to go fulfill my proper function in the social organism. I’m going to go unbuild walls.”

Related Characters: Shevek (speaker), Takver (speaker), Bedap, Sabul – , Tirin
Related Symbols: The Wall
Page Number: 332
Explanation and Analysis:
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Sabul – Character Timeline in The Dispossessed

The timeline below shows where the character Sabul – appears in The Dispossessed. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Freedom Theme Icon
Humility and Moderation vs. Ego and Excess Theme Icon
Individualism and Isolation vs. Collectivism and Solidarity Theme Icon
...Shevek, she reveals that she has forwarded one of his papers to a physicist named Sabul in Abbenay, and Sabul has written back with just a single equation. Shevek realizes that... (full context)
Freedom Theme Icon
Humility and Moderation vs. Ego and Excess Theme Icon
Individualism and Isolation vs. Collectivism and Solidarity Theme Icon
Mitis tells Shevek that Sabul will now want him to come to Abbenay to work alongside him. Shevek tells Mitis... (full context)
Chapter 3
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
Oiie asks about Sabul, and what the relationship between him and Shevek is—Oiie recalls a period of six years... (full context)
Chapter 4
Freedom Theme Icon
Humility and Moderation vs. Ego and Excess Theme Icon
Individualism and Isolation vs. Collectivism and Solidarity Theme Icon
...registrar points him in the direction of the dorm, and hands him a note from Sabul, which instructs Shevek to meet Sabul at the physics office in the morning. Shevek follows... (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
In the morning, Shevek meets Sabul—the physicist who is to be his mentor. Sabul is squat and slovenly, dressed in grimy... (full context)
Freedom Theme Icon
Individualism and Isolation vs. Collectivism and Solidarity Theme Icon
As Sabul prepares to leave, he tells Shevek not to share the Urrasti texts with anyone. Shevek... (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
...single one of Gvarab’s lectures—he has been attending her course on Frequency and Cycle despite Sabul’s disapproval. Attendance at Gvarab’s lectures is sparse, but the elderly Gvarab takes pleasure in being... (full context)
Freedom Theme Icon
Individualism and Isolation vs. Collectivism and Solidarity Theme Icon
After half a year at the Institute, Shevek presents Sabul with a critique of the Urrasti physicist Atro’s work. Sabul orders Shevek to translate the... (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
...into the physics office to see if any letters have arrived, and he runs into Sabul. Sabul holds out a book to Shevek—it is Shevek’s critique of Atro’s work, retranslated into... (full context)
Individualism and Isolation vs. Collectivism and Solidarity Theme Icon
...him while sorting books for the engineering library on a work rotation—she discovered his and Sabul’s book and tracked him to the Institute, then to the clinic. (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 Theory of Simultaneity, and so enrolls in two philosophical mathematics courses and begins avoiding Sabul. He attempts to grow closer to Gvarab, but age has taken its toll on her,... (full context)
Chapter 8
Humility and Moderation vs. Ego and Excess Theme Icon
Individualism and Isolation vs. Collectivism and Solidarity Theme Icon
...siting alone in the dark. When she asks him what’s wrong, he tells her that Sabul is not going to recommend one of his newest papers for either publication on Anarres... (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
Takver suggests that Shevek offer Sabul a co-writing credit and see if that sways him, since Sabul himself is an egoist,... (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
...honor this request until Shevek requests it as well. Another letter on the table, from Sabul, informs Shevek that he will not be reposted to the physics department at the Institute.... (full context)
Humility and Moderation vs. Ego and Excess Theme Icon
Individualism and Isolation vs. Collectivism and Solidarity Theme Icon
Shevek goes looking for Sabul, and finds him in his office. Sabul says that things at the Institute are not... (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
Shevek leaves Sabul’s office and goes downtown to the Divlab to request a posting near Takver. The clerk,... (full context)
Chapter 10
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
The People vs. the State Theme Icon
...artistic expression and Shevek’s for “unproductive” research. Shevek looks back on his own capitulation to Sabul’s “authoritarianism,” and argues that though his book was printed—the right end—it was achieved through “the... (full context)
Chapter 12
Freedom Theme Icon
The Failure of Utopian Ideals Theme Icon
Individualism and Isolation vs. Collectivism and Solidarity Theme Icon
The People vs. the State Theme Icon
...off to Urras just to prove their right to act. Shevek heads off to meet Sabul, while Bedap goes over to Shevek and Takver’s to help Takver with the new baby,... (full context)
Freedom Theme Icon
The Failure of Utopian Ideals Theme Icon
The People vs. the State Theme Icon
...first time, through the lens of knowing that Rulag is Shevek’s mother. Shevek announces that Sabul has told him that the Physics Federation has an autonomous and permanent full-time posting to... (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
The People vs. the State Theme Icon
Takver can’t believe that Shevek would even speak to Sabul, who has betrayed him and slandered him so many times. Sabul has been spreading lies... (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
...on Anarres, and no longer wants to spend his life handing his work over to Sabul. Takver agrees that it is worth the risk, stating that she believes that there are... (full context)