The Left Hand of Darkness

The Left Hand of Darkness

by

Ursula K. Le Guin

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Orgoreyn Term Analysis

A nation on the planet Gethen. Its government is a complicated bureaucracy with a strict police force. It is made up of thirty-three districts, each of which has a representative who serves as a Commensal in the government. Orgoreyn is committed to providing employment for all its citizens, as well as providing the opportunity for any member of its society to ascend in rank. It has a longstanding rivalry with its neighbor, the nation of Karhide.

Orgoreyn Quotes in The Left Hand of Darkness

The The Left Hand of Darkness quotes below are all either spoken by Orgoreyn or refer to Orgoreyn. 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 1  Quotes

“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
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation long mobile
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
Explanation and Analysis:
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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
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 14 Quotes

“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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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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Orgoreyn Term Timeline in The Left Hand of Darkness

The timeline below shows where the term Orgoreyn 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
...now out of favor because of his attempt to mitigate a conflict between Karhide and Orgoreyn in the Sinoth Valley. Ai thinks this information irrelevant, and is frustrated that an issue... (full context)
Chapter 3
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...been trying to warn him to stay safe. Ai thinks he will eventually go to Orgoreyn and try to work with the government there, but he has more business in Karhide,... (full context)
Chapter 5
Sex, Gender, and Behavior Theme Icon
Duty and Loyalty Theme Icon
...“mobilize” militarily, instead behave “like animals” or at least “like women.” Still, Ai understands that Orgoreyn, the neighboring country, has become “increasingly mobilizable,” and war could be on the horizon if... (full context)
Chapter 6
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...will dare to help him. Instead, he will walk to the Gulf separating Karhide from Orgoreyn.   (full context)
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Estraven sits and thinks. He will have to take a boat to Orgoreyn, and will have to commit a crime to get a ship. He steals a rowboat,... (full context)
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Estraven is dropped on the Orgota coast the next morning. He is weak but tries to walk toward the nearby town... (full context)
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...Inspector comes to ask Estraven for his information. Estraven jokes that “behind every man in Orgoreyn comes the Inspector.” Estraven tells him he is from Karhide, but has lost his identification... (full context)
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...he reminds Estraven he will have to apply for new papers and permanent residence in Orgoreyn where he can get a job and become a useful citizen. For the next few... (full context)
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Estraven makes calls to some officials he knows in the Orgota government, who come the next day to collect him from his boarding house. Commensal Yegey... (full context)
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...that he worries that if Karhide grows too powerful it will go to war with Orgoreyn. Obsle fears the same thing, as does Yegey. All three see the Sinoth Valley dispute... (full context)
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...suggests letting them speak to Ai themselves. They admit he has requested permission to enter Orgoreyn. (full context)
Chapter 7
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...as male, sometimes as female. In Karhide individuals seem to have no preference, but in Orgoreyn sometimes hormones are used to induce one or the other. (full context)
Chapter 8
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Orgoreyn has, in the past few centuries, achieved material stability, which allowed it to centralize its... (full context)
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...Tibe of his question to the Foretellers, to no response. He then goes to the Orgota Embassy and requests to enter Orgoreyn. Ai is excited to leave Karhide. He feels less... (full context)
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Two days later, Ai leaves for Orgoreyn. Some higher-up has expedited the immigration process. Ai walks to the border, relying on the... (full context)
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At the border, the Karhidish bridge-keeper happily lets Ai cross, whereas the Orgota Inspector reviews his documents for hours. His passport is eventually taken for further inspection and... (full context)
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...rubies he’s used as money. Ai joins a crowd of people evacuating their smoking hometown. Orgota guards eventually stop the group. They separate out those without papers, including Ai, who has... (full context)
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...It takes Ai two days to reach Mishnory. During his travels he notes that the Orgota seem incurious, a welcome change from Karhide’s passionate people. Arriving finally in Mishonry, even the... (full context)
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...to talk to him. He becomes unhappy as he realizes Estraven has summoned him to Orgoreyn.   (full context)
Chapter 10
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...decides to humiliate Estraven so he will stop visiting. Estraven cautions that the radio in Orgoreyn can lie, and offers Ai advice, switching from speaking Karhidish to Orgota, which he feels... (full context)
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In Orgoreyn, pride doesn’t govern social behavior in the same way, and people are more open in... (full context)
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...the exchange of goods and ideas. Slose, another official, wonders if Ai wants to connect Orgoreyn or Gethen. Ai responds that Orgoreyn could be the first, but the goal is the... (full context)
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...understands that the idea of a waiting ship can be threatening, but he feels the Orgota are less ruled by fear than the Karhidish, and more ready to accept him. Slose... (full context)
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...well. These men are also members of the Open Trade faction, a non-nationalistic minority in Orgota government that wants to end the Sinoth Valley dispute.   (full context)
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Ai feels that his mission is suddenly as complicated in Orgoreyn as it was in Karhide. He blames Estraven, and wonders what Estraven is doing in... (full context)
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Back in his room, Ai considers how everything in Orgoreyn seems insipid, as though it does not cast a shadow. He feels like nothing, and... (full context)
Chapter 11
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...Ai has not been mentioned on the radio. He wonders if Ai understands that the Orgoreyn government is full of secrets. Yesterday Orgoreyn attacked a Karhidish granary, and Estraven reflects this... (full context)
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...Ai is taken publicly through the city, Estraven sees this as deception. The people of Orgoreyn do not know of him. He is seen but not known, and so he is... (full context)
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Estraven goes to meet Ai by his house. He pretends it is a chance meeting, “Orgota style.” Estraven warns him that if he is not allowed to contact his ship by... (full context)
Chapter 13
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...awoken, arrested, and taken to the Kundershaden Prison. Ai notes that unlike so much in Orgoreyn, this is not a facade or euphemism—it is a jail. Ai is put in a... (full context)
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...This is similar to when he was locked in a barn his first night in Orgoreyn. He realizes that the “black cellar” was the true Orgoreyn, and he was foolish to... (full context)
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...that the group makes an effort to allow everyone a drink. Ai considers that the Orgota people act the way they do because they are trained to be cooperative and submissive... (full context)
Truth and Storytelling Theme Icon
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...story about people living on other worlds. It is hard to describe space travel in Orgota, which doesn’t have a word for “flying.” Ai explains that people on other worlds are... (full context)
Chapter 14
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...not fully wake up. He speaks in his native language, and also a mixture of Orgota and Karhidish. Estraven worries he has been permanently changed by the Farm, and regrets saving... (full context)
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...compose himself, finally explaining that he feels he is partially responsible for drawing Ai to Orgoreyn, which led to his imprisonment. (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 with different eyes” explains his... (full context)
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...afraid to talk to Ai and “contaminate” him, putting him in more danger. Once in Orgoreyn he encouraged the Thirty-Three to let Ai travel into the country, hoping they would accept... (full context)
Chapter 15
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When Estraven wakes up, the two men discuss how to get out of Orgoreyn. The most practical way is overland, traveling off road to the north, and then across... (full context)
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...to travel the eight hundred miles across the arching glacier connecting the northernmost point of Orgoreyn to Karhide. They will first travel north onto the glacier, then east across the glacier... (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 love a... (full context)
Chapter 17
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Light and Dark, Religion and Spirituality  Theme Icon
This chapter takes the form of an ancient Orgota Creation Myth. This myth begins with the beginning of the world, when there is only... (full context)
Chapter 18
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...their eventual arrival in Karhide, Estraven predicts what will happen to Ai. He suspects the Orgota will claim he has died, and will be embarrassed when he resurfaces. Argaven will briefly... (full context)
Chapter 19
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Estraven intends to return to Orgoreyn after his work is finished. Ai is depressed both by the fact that their journey... (full context)
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...in Karhide’s kindness to strangers. In this moment he feels Karhide to be superior to Orgoreyn(full context)
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...hide in the wilderness either. Estraven must try to make it through the border to Orgoreyn. As the day progresses, Ai becomes colder and sadder. He begins to realize what Estraven’s... (full context)
Chapter 20
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News of Ai’s escape from Orgoreyn is broadcast, as is news of his arrival in Karhide. However, news of his spaceship,... (full context)
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...your servant.”  Argaven wonders why Estraven betrayed him. He sees Estraven’s attempt to get the Orgota government to join the Ekumen as an affront to Karhide and to himself, as its... (full context)
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...greet 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... (full context)