The Left Hand of Darkness

The Left Hand of Darkness

by

Ursula K. Le Guin

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A difficult-to-translate Orgota word, which comes from a word meaning “to eat together.” It refers to the governing body of Orgoreyn, the Heads of District that make up the governing body, and the citizens of Orgoreyn. It refers variously to both the whole (Orgoreyn) and its component parts.

Commensal Quotes in The Left Hand of Darkness

The The Left Hand of Darkness quotes below are all either spoken by Commensal or refer to Commensal. For each quote, you can also see the other terms 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 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:
Quotes explanation long mobile
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Commensal Term Timeline in The Left Hand of Darkness

The timeline below shows where the term Commensal appears in The Left Hand of Darkness. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 6
Duty and Loyalty Theme Icon
Otherness and Connectedness Theme Icon
...the Orgota government, who come the next day to collect him from his boarding house. Commensal Yegey takes Estraven in as his secretary, which makes him a dependent—a term he dislikes,... (full context)
Duty and Loyalty Theme Icon
Otherness and Connectedness Theme Icon
Estraven continues to praise Ai to the Commensals. He wonders, “How shall we deal with strangers, except as brothers?” and adds that if... (full context)
Chapter 8
Otherness and Connectedness Theme Icon
...hours. His passport is eventually taken for further inspection and Ai is sent to a Commensal Transient-House for the night. (full context)
Otherness and Connectedness Theme Icon
Ai is taken to a Commensal and fed. Everyone else is already sleeping and he goes to bed as well. He... (full context)
Otherness and Connectedness Theme Icon
...name. He is relieved to be “named, known, recognized.” He is taken to the Local Commensal Farm Centrality, which is filled with Inspectors who recognize him not as the Envoy, but... (full context)
Chapter 13
Duty and Loyalty Theme Icon
Otherness and Connectedness Theme Icon
...small room. When a guard enters, Ai asks if he can send word to the Commensal, but is informed the Commensal is already aware of his arrest, and the guards are... (full context)
Chapter 20
Duty and Loyalty Theme Icon
...governments of Orgoreyn and Karhide have fallen. In Orgoreyn this means a new group of Commensals has replaced the old, and the Open Trade faction eventually takes over. In Karhide this... (full context)
Duty and Loyalty Theme Icon
...the Ekumen. Argaven is also happy Ai has made “liars” and “fools” of the Orgota Commensals. Ai reminds him that both Orgoreyn and Karhide will soon be allies of the Ekumen,... (full context)