The Left Hand of Darkness

The Left Hand of Darkness

by

Ursula K. Le Guin

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Therem Harth rem ir Estraven (Estraven) Character Analysis

Estraven begins the novel as Karhide’s prime minister, but sacrifices his appointment to help Ai with his mission. To Ai, who doesn’t understand Karhidish shifgrethor, or the intricate workings of Gethenian government, Estraven seems to be lacking in loyalty, and his motives are inscrutable. However Estraven is constantly working to serve his fellow Gethenians, as opposed to the interests of any single nation. Estraven is proud and loyal, willing to sacrifice his career and even his life for the greater good. Of everyone on Gethen, he is the most interested in learning about and understanding Ai, Ai’s mission, and the Ekumen. He understands Ai in a way Ai does not seem to understand him. He deeply desires Ai’s trust and compassion, which Ai is slow to give. He has twice vowed kemmering, once to his brother, Arek, with whom he has a son named Sorve, and once to Ashe, with whom he has two children.

Therem Harth rem ir Estraven (Estraven) Quotes in The Left Hand of Darkness

The The Left Hand of Darkness quotes below are all either spoken by Therem Harth rem ir Estraven (Estraven) or refer to Therem Harth rem ir Estraven (Estraven) . 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:
Truth and Storytelling Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Ace Books edition of The Left Hand of Darkness published in 1987.
Chapter 1  Quotes

I’ll make my report as if I told a story, for I was taught as a child on my homeworld that Truth is a matter of the imagination. The soundest fact may fail or prevail in the style of its telling: like that singular organic jewel of our seas, which grows brighter as one woman wears it and, worn by another, dulls and goes to dust. Facts are no more solid, coherent, round, and real than pearls are. But both are sensitive.
The story is not all mine, nor told by me alone. Indeed I am not sure whose story it is; you can judge better. But it is all one, and if at moments the facts seem to alter with an altered voice, why then you can choose the fact you like best; yet none of them is false, and it is all one story.

Page Number: 1
Explanation and Analysis:
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Though I had been nearly two years on Winter I was still far from being able to see the people of the planet through their own eyes. I tried to, but my efforts took the form of self-consciously seeing a Gethenian first as a man, then as a woman, forcing him into those categories so irrelevant to his nature and so essential to my own. Thus as I sipped my smoking sour beer I thought that at table Estraven’s performance had been womanly, all charm and tact and lack of substance, specious and adroit. Was it in fact perhaps this soft supple femininity that I disliked and distrusted in him? For it was impossible to think of him as a woman, that dark, ironic, powerful presence near me in the firelit darkness, and yet whenever I thought of him as a man I felt a sense of falseness, of imposture: in him, or in my own attitude towards him? His voice was soft and rather resonant but not deep, scarcely a man’s voice, but scarcely a woman’s voice either…but what was it saying?

Page Number: 12
Explanation and Analysis:
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“I’m afraid that Argaven also believes you. But he does not trust you. In part because he no longer trusts me. I have made mistakes, been careless. I cannot ask for your trust any longer, either, having put you in jeopardy. I forgot what a king is, forgot that the king in his own eyes is Karhide, forgot what patriotism is and that he is, of necessity, the perfect patriot. Let me ask you this, Mr. Ai: do you know, by your own experience, what patriotism is?”
“No,” I said, shaken by the force of that intense personality suddenly turning itself wholly upon me. “I don’t think I do. If by patriotism you don’t mean the love of one’s homeland, for that I do know.”
“No, I don’t mean love, when I say patriotism. I mean fear. The fear of the other. And its expressions are political, not poetical: hate, rivalry, aggression. It grows in us, that fear. It grows in us year by year. We’ve followed our road too far. And you, who come from a world that outgrew nations centuries ago, who hardly know what I’m talking about, who show us the new road—” He broke off. After a while he went on, in control again, cool and polite: “It’s because of fear that I refuse to urge your cause with the king, now. But not fear for myself, Mr. Ai. I’m not acting patriotically. There are, after all, other nations on Gethen.”

Page Number: 19
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Chapter 3 Quotes

“…if there were anything these Ekumens wanted from us, they wouldn’t have sent you alone. It’s a joke, a hoax. Aliens would be here by the thousand.”
“But it doesn’t take a thousand men to open a door, my lord.”
“It might to keep it open.”
“The Ekumen will wait till you open it, sir. It will force nothing on you. I was sent alone, and remain here alone, in order to make it impossible for you to fear me.”
“Fear you?” said the king, turning his shadow-scarred face, grinning, speaking loud and high. “But I do fear you, Envoy. I fear those who sent you. I fear liars, and I fear tricksters, and worst I fear the bitter truth. And so I rule my country well. Because only fear rules men. Nothing else works. Nothing else lasts long enough. You are what you say you are, yet you’re a joke, a hoax. There’s nothing in between the stars but void and terror and darkness, and you come out of that all alone trying to frighten me. But I am already afraid, and I am the king. Fear is king! Now take your traps and tricks and go, there’s no more needs saying.”

Page Number: 42
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 8 Quotes

Argaven was not sane; the sinister incoherence of his mind darkened the mood of his capital; he fed on fear. All the good of his reign had been done by his ministers and the kyorremy. But he had not done much harm. His wrestles with his own nightmares had not damaged the Kingdom. His cousin Tibe was another kind of fish, for his insanity had logic. Tibe knew when to act, and how to act. Only he did not know when to stop.
Tibe spoke on the radio a good deal. Estraven when in power had never done so, and it was not in the Karhidish vein: their government was not a public performance, normally; it was covert and indirect. Tibe, however, orated. Hearing his voice on the air I saw again the long-toothed smile and the face masked with a net of fine wrinkles. His speeches were long and loud: praises of Karhide, disparagements of Orgoreyn, vilifications of “disloyal factions,” discussions of the “Integrity of the Kingdom’s borders,” lectures in history and ethics and economics, all in a ranting, canting emotional tone that went shrill with vituperation or adulation. He talked much about pride of country and love of parentland, but little about shifgrethor, personal pride or prestige. Had Karhide lost so much prestige in the Sinoth Valley business that the subject could not be brought up? No; for he often talked about the Sinoth Valley. I decided that he was deliberately avoiding talk of shifgrethor because he wished to rouse emotions of a more elemental, uncontrollable kind. He wanted to stir up something that the whole shifgrethor-pattern was a refinement upon, a sublimation of. He wanted his hearers to be frightened and angry. His themes were not pride and love at all, though he used the words perpetually; as he used them they meant self-praise and hate. He talked a great deal about Truth also, for he was, he said, “cutting down beneath the veneer of civilization.”

Page Number: 107
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 10 Quotes

Obsle, speaking to persuade others, had said, “Either Karhide will fear the strength this alliance will give us—and Karhide is always afraid of new ways and new ideas, remember—and so will hang back and be left behind. Or else the Erhenrang Government will get up their courage and come and ask to join, after us, in second place. In either case the shifgrethor of Karhide will be diminished; and in either case, we drive the sledge. If we have the wits to take this advantage now, it will be a permanent advantage and a certain one!” Then turning to me, “But the Ekumen must be willing to help us, Mr. Ai. We have got to have more to show our people than you alone, one man, already known in Erhenrang.”

Page Number: 153
Explanation and Analysis:
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If you play against your own side you’ll lose the whole game. That’s what these fellows with no patriotism, only self-love, can’t see.

Page Number: 153
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Chapter 11 Quotes

He knew I was angry but I am not sure he understood that he was insulted; he seemed to accept my advice despite the manner of its giving; and when my temper cooled I saw this, and was worried by it. Is it possible that all along in Erhenrang he was seeking my advice, not knowing how to tell me that he sought it? If so, then he must have misunderstood half and not understood the rest of what I told him by my fireside in the Palace, the night after the Ceremony of the Keystone. His shifgrethor must be founded, and composed, and sustained, altogether differently from ours; and when I thought myself most blunt and frank with him he may have found me most subtle and unclear.

His obtuseness is ignorance. His arrogance is ignorance. He is ignorant of us: we of him. He is infinitely a stranger, and I a fool, to let my shadow cross the light of hope he brings us.

Related Symbols: Keystone , Shadows
Page Number: 161
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Chapter 14 Quotes

The luck that had turned in Ethwen now turned the world with it under my hand. I never had a gift but one, to know when the great wheel gives to a touch, to know and act. I had thought that foresight lost, last year in Erhenrang, and never to be regained. A great delight it was to feel that certainty again, to know that I could steer my fortune and the world’s chance like a bobsled down the steep, dangerous hour.

Page Number: 203
Explanation and Analysis:
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“But for what purpose—all this intriguing, this hiding and power-seeking and plotting—what was it all for, Estraven? What were you after?”
“I was after what you’re after: the alliance of my world with your worlds. What did you think?”
We were staring at each other across the glowing stove like a pair of wooden dolls.
“You mean, even if it was Orgoreyn that made the alliance—?”
“Even if it was Orgoreyn. Karhide would soon have followed. Do you think I would play shifgrethor when so much is at stake for all of us, all my fellow men? What does it matter which country wakens first, so long as we waken?”

Related Characters: Genly Ai (speaker), Therem Harth rem ir Estraven (Estraven) (speaker)
Page Number: 213
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 15 Quotes

…Hate Orgoreyn? No, how should I? How does one hate a country, or love one? Tibe talks about it; I lack the trick of it. I know people, I know towns, farms, hills and river and rocks, I know how the sun at sunset in autumn falls on the side of a certain plowland in the hills; but what is the sense of giving a boundary to all that, of giving it a name and ceasing to love where the name ceases to apply? What is love of one’s country; is it hate of one’s uncountry? Then it’s not a good thing. Is it simply self-love? That’s a good thing, but one mustn’t make a virtue of it, or a profession…Insofar as I love life, I love the hills of the Domain of Estre, but that sort of love does not have a boundary-line of hate. And beyond that, I am ignorant, I hope.

Page Number: 227
Explanation and Analysis:
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“Is it going to be ‘Mr.’ clear across the Gobrin Ice?”
He looked up and laughed. “I don’t know what to call you.”
“My name is Genly Ai.”
“I know. You use my landname.”
“I don’t know what to call you either.”
“Harth.”
“Then I’m Ai—Who uses first names?”
“Hearth-brothers, or friends,” he said, and saying it was remote, out of reach, two feet from me in a tent eight feet across. No answer to that. What is more arrogant than honesty? Cooled, I climbed into my fur bag. “Good night, Ai,” said the alien, and the other alien said, “Good night, Harth.”
A friend. What is a friend, in a world where any friend may be a lover at a new phase of the moon? Not I, locked in my virility: no friend to Therem Harth, or any other of his race. Neither man nor woman, neither and both, cyclic, lunar, metamorphosing under the hand’s touch, changelings in the human cradle, they were no flesh of mine, no friends; no love between us.

Related Characters: Genly Ai (speaker), Therem Harth rem ir Estraven (Estraven) (speaker)
Page Number: 229
Explanation and Analysis:
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I was galled by his patronizing. He was a head shorter than I, and built more like a woman than a man, more fat than muscle; when we hauled together I had to shorten my pace to his, hold in my strength so as not to out-pull him: a stallion in harness with a mule—
“You’re no longer ill, then?”
“No. Of course I’m tired. So are you.”
“Yes, I am,” he said. “I was anxious about you. We have a long way to go.”
He had not meant to patronize. He had thought me sick, and sick men take orders. He was frank, and expected a reciprocal frankness that I might not be able to supply. He, after all, had no standards of manliness, of virility, to complicate his pride.
On the other hand, if he could lower all his standards of shifgrethor, as I realized he had done with me, perhaps I could dispense with the more competitive elements of my masculine self-respect, which he certainly understood as little as I understood shifgrethor…

Related Characters: Genly Ai (speaker), Therem Harth rem ir Estraven (Estraven) (speaker)
Page Number: 235
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 16 Quotes

There is a frailty about him. He is all unprotected, exposed, vulnerable, even to his sexual organ, which he must carry always outside himself; but he is strong, unbelievably strong. I am not sure he can keep hauling any longer than I can, but he can haul harder and faster than I—twice as hard. He can lift the sledge at front or rear to ease it over an obstacle. I could not lift and hold that weight, unless I was in dothe. To match his frailty and strength, he has a spirit easy to despair and quick to defiance: a fierce impatient courage. This slow, hard, crawling work we have been doing these days wears him out in body and will, so that if he were one of my race I should think him a coward, but he is anything but that; he has a ready bravery I have never seen the like of. He is ready, eager, to stake life on the cruel quick test of the precipice.
“Fire and fear, good servants, bad lords.” He makes fear serve him. I would have let fear lead me around by the long way. Courage and reason are with him. What good seeking the safe course, on a journey such as this? There are senseless courses, which I shall not take; but there is no safe one.

Page Number: 246
Explanation and Analysis:
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After all he is no more an oddity, a sexual freak, than I am; up here on the Ice each of us is singular, isolate, I as cut off from those like me, from my society and its rules, as he from his. There is no world full of other Gethenians here to explain and support my existence. We are equals at last, equal, alien, alone. He did not laugh, of course. Rather he spoke with a gentleness that I did not know was in him. After a while he too came to speak of isolation, of loneliness.

Related Characters: Genly Ai (speaker), Therem Harth rem ir Estraven (Estraven) (speaker)
Page Number: 250
Explanation and Analysis:
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Light is the left hand of darkness

and darkness the right hand of light.
Two are one, life and death, lying

together like lovers in kemmer,

like hands joined together,

like the end and the way.

Related Symbols: Shadows
Page Number: 252
Explanation and Analysis:
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After he had stared a long time at the glowing stove, he shook his head. “Harth,” he said, “I can’t tell you what women are like. I never thought about it much in the abstract, you know, and—God!—by now I’ve practically forgotten. I’ve been here two years….You don’t know. In a sense, women are more alien to me than you are. With you I share one sex, anyhow….” He looked away and laughed, rueful and uneasy. My own feelings were complex, and we let the matter drop.

Related Characters: Genly Ai (speaker), Therem Harth rem ir Estraven (Estraven) (speaker)
Page Number: 253
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 18 Quotes

And I saw then again, and for good, what I had always been afraid to see, and had pretended not to see in him: that he was a woman as well as a man. Any need to explain the sources of that fear vanished with the fear; what I was left with was, at last, acceptance of him as he was. Until then I had rejected him, refused him his own reality. He had been quite right to say that he, the only person on Gethen who trusted me, was the only Gethenian I distrusted. For he was the only one who had entirely accepted me as a human being: who had liked me personally and given me entire personal loyalty, and who therefore had demanded of me an equal degree of recognition, of acceptance. I had not been willing to give it. I had been afraid to give it. I had not wanted to give my trust, my friendship to a man who was a woman, a woman who was a man.

Page Number: 267
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 19 Quotes

“Fear’s very useful. Like darkness; like shadows.” Estraven’s smile was an ugly split in a peeling, cracked brown mask, thatched with black fur and set with two flecks of black rock. “It’s queer that daylight’s not enough. We need the shadows, in order to walk.”
“Give me your notebook a moment.”
He had just noted down our day’s journey and done some calculation of mileage and rations. He pushed the little tablet and carbon-pencil around the Chabe stove to me. On the blank leaf glued to the inner back cover I drew the double curve within the circle, and blacked the yin half of the symbol, then pushed it back to my companion. “Do you know that sign?”
He looked at it a long time with a strange look, but he said, “No.”
“It’s found on Earth, and on Hain-Davenant, and on Chiffewar. It is yin and yang. Light is the left hand of darkness…how did it go? Light, dark. Fear, courage. Cold, warmth. Female, male. It is yourself, Therem. Both and one. A shadow on snow.”

Related Characters: Genly Ai (speaker), Therem Harth rem ir Estraven (Estraven) (speaker)
Related Symbols: Shadows
Page Number: 286
Explanation and Analysis:
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We stayed two more days in Kurkurast, getting well fed and rested, waiting for a road-packer that was due in from the south and would give us a lift when it went back again. Our hosts got Estraven to tell them the whole tale of our crossing of the Ice. He told it as only a person of an oral-literature tradition can tell a story, so that it became a saga, full of traditional locutions and even episodes, yet exact and vivid, from the sulphurous fire and dark of the pass between Drumner and Dremegole to the screaming gusts from the mountain-gaps that swept the Bay of Guthen; with comic interludes, such as his fall into the crevasse, and mystical ones, when he spoke of the sounds and silences of the Ice, of the shadowless weather, of the night’s darkness. I listened as fascinated as all the rest, my gaze on my friend’s dark face.

Page Number: 296
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 20 Quotes

“Why the devil did he cheat me?” he demanded in his high strident voice, and for the first time looked straight at me.
“Who?” I said, sending back his stare.
“Estraven.”
“He saw to it that you didn’t cheat yourself. He got me out of sight when you began to favor a faction unfriendly to me. He brought me back to you when my return would in itself persuade you to receive the Mission of the Ekumen, and the credit for it.”
“Why did he never say anything about this larger ship to me?”
“Because he didn’t know about it: I never spoke to anyone of it until I went to Orgoreyn.”
“And a fine lot you chose to blab to there, you tow. He tried to get the Orgota to receive your Mission. He was working with their Open Traders all along. You’ll tell me that was not betrayal?”
“It was not. He knew that, whichever nation first made alliance with the Ekumen, the other would follow soon: as it will: as Sith and Perunter and the Archipelago will also follow, until you find unity. He loved his country very dearly, sir, but he did not serve it, or you. He served the master I serve.”
“The Ekumen?” said Argaven, startled.
“No. Mankind.”
As I spoke I did not know if what I said was true. True in part; an aspect of the truth. It would be no less true to say that Estraven’s acts had risen out of pure personal loyalty, a sense of responsibility and friendship towards one single human being, myself. Nor would that be the whole truth.

Page Number: 315
Explanation and Analysis:
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Therem Harth rem ir Estraven (Estraven) Character Timeline in The Left Hand of Darkness

The timeline below shows where the character Therem Harth rem ir Estraven (Estraven) appears in The Left Hand of Darkness. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1 
Duty and Loyalty Theme Icon
Otherness and Connectedness Theme Icon
...the task for many minutes. The keystone is laid with red mortar, and Ai asks Estraven, who is standing next to him, why red mortar is used. Estraven explains keystones used... (full context)
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Ai passes time by asking Estraven about the assembled Domains and Clans. He is impressed by Estraven’s knowledge, but Estraven explains... (full context)
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...kyorremy named Tibe (the King’s cousin) interrupts Ai’s conversation so that he can talk to Estraven. Ai can tell the two men do not get along, but doesn’t understand the politics.... (full context)
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The parade ends when the King finishes laying the stones. As the royal party disperses, Estraven invites Ai to dinner. Ai is surprised because even though Estraven has helped him over... (full context)
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...intercepts Ai as he walks. They talk about the ceremony, and Ai says he appreciates Estraven’s explanation of events. Tibe comments that Estraven is “famous for his kindness to foreigners.” Ai... (full context)
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In the evening, Ai walks past the palace to Estraven’s house. Ai thinks the architecture of the palace, with its walls and dungeons representing “centuries... (full context)
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...he sometimes sees them as men, sometimes as women. He considers again how he distrusts Estraven, and wonders whether this is because he distrusts his perceived femininity, or some kind of... (full context)
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Estraven apologizes to Ai for waiting so many months to invite him to his home, but... (full context)
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Ai wonders if Estraven’s behavior is related to shifgrethor, in which case he doesn’t hope to understand it. Estraven... (full context)
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Estraven warns Ai that there are people in court who oppose his mission as Envoy. Although... (full context)
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Estraven explains that the King is patriotic, in that he fears the other. Estraven assures Ai... (full context)
Chapter 3
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...that his job as Envoy is designed for a single person, and he doesn’t need Estraven’s help to succeed. He reasons that “one voice speaking truth is a greater force than... (full context)
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...radio in the room plays a news bulletin, and Ai is shocked to hear that Estraven has been exiled for treason, and must leave Karhide within three days. The radio continues,... (full context)
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...joins Argaven in his immense reception hall. Ai sits while Argaven stands. Ai asks about Estraven, and the King reveals that Estraven has been advising him not to meet with Ai,... (full context)
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...walks home Ai, feeling like a failure, wonders what is true and what is false. Estraven is apparently exiled because he advocated for Ai, but the King claimed Estraven spoke against... (full context)
Chapter 6
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Estraven’s cook wakes him in his home. There is a runner from the King’s house, who... (full context)
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Estraven writes to his old kemmering, Ashe, warning him not to contact him, and promising him... (full context)
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Estraven briefly considers returning home to his Hearth, but decides against it. He considers the three... (full context)
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Estraven’s cook kindly left him food, so he is not hungry during his journey. He is... (full context)
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After three days of walking, Estraven arrives at the Gulf. At the gates is Ashe, his former kemmering, with whom he... (full context)
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Estraven wants to protect Ashe by driving him away, so he is purposefully cruel and bitter.... (full context)
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Estraven is concerned to see that the fishermen recognize him and will not rent out their... (full context)
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Estraven sits and thinks. He will have to take a boat to Orgoreyn, and will have... (full context)
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After some time Estraven is pulled out of the water and onto a Karhidish patrol ship. Estraven is too... (full context)
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Estraven is dropped on the Orgota coast the next morning. He is weak but tries to... (full context)
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After the doctor leaves, an Inspector comes to ask Estraven for his information. Estraven jokes that “behind every man in Orgoreyn comes the Inspector.” Estraven... (full context)
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As an “indigent and unregistered alien” without papers, Estraven cannot return to Karhide, and the Inspector threatens to send him to a prison work... (full context)
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Five days later, Estraven sets out to Mishnory. He pays his way by working on a fresh-fish landboat. Once... (full context)
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Estraven spends his free time wandering the town, noting that although streetlights have been smashed by... (full context)
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Later in the summer, an Alien Registry Law causes Estraven to lose his job. It takes him half a month to get reregistered, during which... (full context)
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Estraven makes calls to some officials he knows in the Orgota government, who come the next... (full context)
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Obsle and Yegey wonder how Estraven, known for his shifgrethor, was evicted from Karhide. Estraven explains that his fear of conflict... (full context)
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Estraven confesses that he worries that if Karhide grows too powerful it will go to war... (full context)
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...work together to prevent war, but first wants to know about the Envoy (through this Estraven infers Genly Ai has requested permission to enter Orgoreyn). Obsle waives shifgrethor and asks Estraven... (full context)
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Estraven continues to praise Ai to the Commensals. He wonders, “How shall we deal with strangers,... (full context)
Chapter 8
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...capable of doing great harm.  Ai notices Tibe speaks on the radio much more than Estraven ever did. He talks about pride of country, but not shifgrethor, or personal pride and... (full context)
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...one who befriended you.” Ai assumes he’s referring to Faxe, but Ashe is referring to Estraven. Ashe can see Ai has no feelings of friendship towards Estraven, and becomes angry. He... (full context)
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Ashe wonders bitterly if Ai feels himself in debt to Estraven, who was exiled partially because of his support for Ai’s mission. Ai explains that his... (full context)
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Ashe wants Ai to take money to Estraven, since Ai has no political ties and cannot be punished for it. Ashe, however, feels... (full context)
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...the money, and Ashe is overcome with emotion, crying easily. He tells Ai he was Estraven’s kemmering, which surprises Ai. Ashe makes a gesture of friendship to Ai (one that Ai... (full context)
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...away to another conversation. At this point Ai looks to his right, where he realizes Estraven is sitting. Ai remarks he is surprised to see him, and tells Estraven he has... (full context)
Chapter 10
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The morning after their dinner, Estraven comes to visit Ai in his room. Ai doesn’t feel guilty for contributing to Estraven’s... (full context)
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Ai gives Estraven the money Ashe gave him. Ai feels guilty for a moment, but decides to humiliate... (full context)
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...he was primarily questioned by experts asking questions limited to their areas of expertise. Only Estraven, Ai reflects, asked him enough questions to form a clear picture of Terra or Ekumenical... (full context)
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...revelation shocks the room. It is a fact Ai has kept hidden from everyone, even Estraven. Obsle wonders if the spaceship would come if Ai never signaled it. Ai says no;... (full context)
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...his mission is suddenly as complicated in Orgoreyn as it was in Karhide. He blames Estraven, and wonders what Estraven is doing in Mishnory. He also realizes Estraven didn’t come to... (full context)
Chapter 11
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This chapter is made up of Estraven’s diary entries. He first relates intrigue in the Thirty-Three. He is aligned with Obsle and... (full context)
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Estraven knows the Sarf contingent in the Thirty-Three fears the Envoy, and thinks he is a... (full context)
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Estraven is thankful for Ashe’s money, which allows him to live as a “unit” and not... (full context)
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Estraven begins to see that Ai is not arrogant, but ignorant, and that he, in turn,... (full context)
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During the day Estraven works in a plastic factory and practices fasting, and in the afternoon he works on... (full context)
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A few days later, Estraven writes again. Ai has not been mentioned on the radio. He wonders if Ai understands... (full context)
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A few days later Estraven writes that he’s becoming more uneasy. Ai has still not been mentioned on the radio.... (full context)
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The next day, Estraven comments that he thinks Gaum is stupid for believing that Ai is a fraud. Gaum... (full context)
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Gaum notices Estraven is about to go into kemmer, and so induces his own kemmer. He intersects Estraven... (full context)
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The next day, Ai gives a speech to the Thirty-Three. Estraven is not invited, but Obsle plays him a tape of the meeting. Estraven thinks Ai... (full context)
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The next day, Estraven notes Ai’s transmitting device has been turned over to the Thirty-Three. Estraven suggests to Obsle... (full context)
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Estraven goes to meet Ai by his house. He pretends it is a chance meeting, “Orgota... (full context)
Chapter 13
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After Estraven’s surprise visit, Ai is shaken. He tries to drive to the residences of Obsle, Yegey,... (full context)
Chapter 14
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Obsle, Yegey, and Slose have left town or shut their doors to Estraven, and he realizes something bad has happened. He blackmails Shusgis into telling him what has... (full context)
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Winter is coming, and Estraven worries that Ai will not survive on the Voluntary Farm. Estraven boards a caravan that... (full context)
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Estraven joins with a hunting party led by a man named Mavriva. Estraven travels with him,... (full context)
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Estraven hides his sledge between his cache and the Farm, which he now marches towards. He... (full context)
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Estraven is put on the midnight guard shift. Some time before dawn he activates his dothe-strength... (full context)
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Ai, who should be awake by now, remains unconscious. Estraven worries that by calling Ai dead to the prison guards he has abused his luck... (full context)
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For a day and a half, Estraven is in catatonic thangen-sleep, and for some time after that he is in a milder... (full context)
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The next day, Ai is able to have a conversation. He tells Estraven about the drugs he was injected with. Estraven hypothesizes they were trying to get him... (full context)
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Ai wonders how Estraven managed to break him out of prison, and is slightly suspicious. Estraven explains he used... (full context)
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Ai denies that Estraven motivated his trip to Orgoreyn. Estraven, who now realizes Ai has “seen the same events... (full context)
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Estraven’s plotting led to his own political exile, at which point he was afraid to talk... (full context)
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Ai still doesn’t understand Estraven’s motivation. Estraven explains he wants the alliance of his world with Ai’s. He doesn’t care... (full context)
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Ai is upset that Estraven didn’t explain himself earlier. Estraven admits his “biggest error” was not being clearer. Ai says... (full context)
Chapter 15
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Ai wakes up in a tent with Estraven. He has woken up before, but is finally fully conscious, and understands where he is.... (full context)
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When Estraven wakes up, the two men discuss how to get out of Orgoreyn. The most practical... (full context)
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Estraven tells Ai, “I think we might make it.” He is straightforward in a way Ai... (full context)
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Ai observes that Estraven is “never rash or hurried, but he was always ready.” This constant readiness is why... (full context)
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Estraven leaves for a day and a half. He returns with a huge bag of food.... (full context)
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Estraven carefully calculates the rations required to travel the eight hundred miles across the arching glacier... (full context)
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...next day. They spend their final afternoon doing nothing so as to store up energy. Estraven writes in his journal, which Ai assumes is both an “obligation to and a link... (full context)
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As they sit in the tent Estraven wonders why Ai was sent alone. Ai explains the first Envoy is always alone, as... (full context)
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...miles over their twelve-mile a day goal. In the evening they discuss a previous sledge-trip Estraven took as a younger man. He describes that trip as a journey undertaken for “the... (full context)
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As they eat, Ai wonders if Estraven hates Orgoreyn. Estraven denies this, and admits he doesn’t understand how someone could hate or... (full context)
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As they prepare to sleep, Ai wonders if Estraven will continue to call him “Mr. Ai.” The two decide to be less formal, calling... (full context)
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As they travel through the forest Estraven traps and kills some pesthry, which they eat. The next day, as he and Ai... (full context)
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...a hotbed of volcanic activity puffing smoke and melting ice into steam. Both Ai and Estraven are happy to see this awe-inspiring sight, even if the fire and ice seem to... (full context)
Chapter 16
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Estraven continues to keep a diary. Ai, although he knows he should keep a record of... (full context)
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Estraven asks Ai about his family. Ai, who has spent many years traveling through space in... (full context)
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For the next several days Estraven and Ai struggle to make significant progress across the rocky, uneven terrain. They are unable... (full context)
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Estraven observes that Ai is both vulnerable and strong. He can haul twice as hard and... (full context)
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These risky routes do not work, and Ai and Estraven must go west, the wrong direction, in order to find an intact ice flow that... (full context)
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On the twenty-third day of their journey, after twelve days of stalled progress, Estraven and Ai finally make it up onto the glacier. On the twenty-fourth day of their... (full context)
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On the glacier, alone with Ai, Estraven feels their sexualities to be equally strange and alien. Removed from the context of Gethenian... (full context)
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Estraven remarks that the Yomeshta would argue “man’s singularity is his divinity.” Ai wonders what the... (full context)
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Estraven, made bold by kemmer, asks Ai about women, which he has never seen. Ai explains... (full context)
Chapter 18
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...life, remarks that he is sometimes taken back to his time in the tent with Estraven, the two of them in “the center of all things,” insulated against the lonely darkness... (full context)
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...months on Gobrin are difficult, but in hindsight he sees them as joyful. He and Estraven enter into an easy rhythm of walking, eating, sleeping, setting up the tent and taking... (full context)
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The two march for over fifty days. Estraven keeps a journal, recording short thoughts and notes about the weather, but nothing about his... (full context)
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Ai suspects Gethenians and “one-sexed” humans can have sex with each other, but he and Estraven do not test his theory, even though Estraven enters kemmer one night early in their... (full context)
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In this moment, in kemmer, Ai sees Estraven as both a man and a woman. Up until now, Ai sees that he has... (full context)
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Estraven tells Ai that while he is in kemmer they cannot touch, and so they do... (full context)
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A few nights after Estraven has gone through kemmer, Ai offers to teach him mindspeech. They try for many days,... (full context)
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Ai calms him and explains what has happened. Estraven relaxes, but is surprised that Ai used his first name, Therem, instead of Harth. The... (full context)
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Ai encourages Estraven to call him by his first name, Genly. Estraven reaches out, and he is able... (full context)
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On the fortieth day of their journey, Estraven remarks that they might have to cut rations. He begins to fast, but insists Ai... (full context)
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As they consider the future and their eventual arrival in Karhide, Estraven predicts what will happen to Ai. He suspects the Orgota will claim he has died,... (full context)
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Estraven wonders again why Ai was sent alone. Ai explains it is the Ekumen’s custom, though... (full context)
Chapter 19
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By the sixty-first day, Estraven and Ai have spotted a series of mountains, which signals that their journey is close... (full context)
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Estraven falls through a crack in the ice, and although Ai pulls him back out, Ai... (full context)
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After the blizzard breaks, the journey becomes easier. Ai and Estraven finally reach the southeastern edge of the glacier. They abandon their sledge and put their... (full context)
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...the 75th day of their journey, after 51 days on the Gorbin Ice, Ai and Estraven finally leave the glacier to ski across the sea ice of the Guthen Bay. Two... (full context)
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Estraven knows that he is still considered a traitor and worries that the kind villagers will... (full context)
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Estraven intends to return to Orgoreyn after his work is finished. Ai is depressed both by... (full context)
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As they prepare to leave again, Estraven tells their hosts the story of their journey. Ai observes that Estraven tells it “as... (full context)
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On their fifth day in Kurkurast, Ai and Estraven leave. For the next eight days they travel towards Sassinoth, which houses a radio powerful... (full context)
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The next day Ai travels into Sassinoth. He sells the stove he and Estraven have carried with them all winter, and uses the money to buy time at the... (full context)
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...Ai begins to ski back to Thessicher’s house from Sassinoth. As he skis he sees Estraven, who is coming in the opposite direction. Thessicher has informed the government of Estraven’s whereabouts,... (full context)
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Now that Estraven has been outed, he can no longer hide in plain sight, but without a tent... (full context)
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As the sky grows darker, Estraven prepares to ski toward the border. Ai asks him to wait but he will not.... (full context)
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The guards allow Ai to stay with Estraven as he dies. Ai is then escorted to prison, and Estraven journeys “into the dark.” (full context)
Chapter 20
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...is imprisoned. He is treated well, but must be imprisoned partially because he was with Estraven, a criminal, and partly because no one knows what to do with him. He reflects... (full context)
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...Farm. The physician sits with him some nights, and at one point Ai wonders why Estraven did not stop skiing towards the border guards. He wonders if Estraven was trying to... (full context)
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...broadcast, as is news of his arrival in Karhide. However, news of his spaceship, and Estraven’s role in his rescue, are omitted. Within ten days both the governments of Orgoreyn and... (full context)
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...harder. He decides he must “set the keystone in the arch,” and accomplish the task Estraven died for. (full context)
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...the King, meets with him after having waited only day. He reflects, “It had taken Estraven six months to arrange my first audience. It had taken the rest of his life... (full context)
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...Ai has served him well. Ai interjects “I am not your servant.”  Argaven wonders why Estraven betrayed him. He sees Estraven’s attempt to get the Orgota government to join the Ekumen... (full context)
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Ai tries to explain that Estraven knew that if one Gethenian nation joined the Ekumen, others would follow. Ai tells Argaven... (full context)
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The meeting almost over, Argaven comments that Estraven was a good man. Ai asks Argaven to revoke his exile, but the King will... (full context)
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...of all the planet’s nations. Ai has decided to take a vacation to Estre, where Estraven was born. Although Ai could travel more swiftly with flying cards brought from his ship,... (full context)
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...bedroom. Sorve then takes Ai to meet the Lord of Estre, Esvans Harth rem ir Estraven, Estraven’s father. Ai came to Estre for two reasons. Firstly, he hoped for solace, but... (full context)
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Esvans introduces Sorve as the heir of Estre, and Estraven’s son. Esvans is eager to hear of Ai and Estraven’s journey across the Gobrin Ice.... (full context)