The Left Hand of Darkness

The Left Hand of Darkness

by

Ursula K. Le Guin

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Vow Kemmering Term Analysis

The Gethenian equivalent of monogamous marriage. Although it has no legal basis, it acts as social glue, and is the foundation of Karhidish society. When two people vow kemmering to each other, they swear to have sex only with each other and no one else. There is no divorce on Gethen, and if one partner dies the other may not vow kemmering again. A person’s monogamous partner is referred to as their kemmering.
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Vow Kemmering Term Timeline in The Left Hand of Darkness

The timeline below shows where the term Vow Kemmering appears in The Left Hand of Darkness. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
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...story, which supposedly takes place two hundred years ago, begins with two brothers who vowed kemmering to each other and had a child. Because of the laws of the region, incest... (full context)
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...implores Getheren to join him, but Getheren is frightened and rejects him. Hode broke his kemmering vow to Getheren by killing himself, and Getheren does not want to kill himself too. (full context)
Chapter 4
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...He lives in constant fear of death. His partner, Herbor, to whom he had vowed kemmering, becomes worried about him and goes to have a Foretelling of his own. He offers... (full context)
Chapter 6
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Estraven writes to his old kemmering, Ashe, warning him not to contact him, and promising him some of his valuable belongings. (full context)
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...days of walking, Estraven arrives at the Gulf. At the gates is Ashe, his former kemmering, with whom he has two children. Although Ashe is now a Celibate Foreteller, the two... (full context)
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...Ashe denies breaking. Estraven then suggests it wasn’t a real vow, as he (Estraven) promised kemmering to another man (his brother Arek) who is now dead. Ashe, tearful, tries to give... (full context)
Chapter 7
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Kemmer sometimes happens in pairs, sometimes in group settings. Some individuals choose vow kemmering, which is essentially the same as monogamous marriage. It has a social and ethical, but... (full context)
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Ong Tot Oppong observes that, as fascinating as the Investigators find kemmering, it “dominates” Gethenians even more. Every aspect of their society revolves around the kemmer-somer cycle,... (full context)
Chapter 8
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...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 notes... (full context)
Chapter 9
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...Lord of Stok, and is his mortal enemy. However, the two men are both near kemmering, and instead of fighting they have intercourse and vow kemmering to each other.   (full context)
Chapter 18
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In this moment, in kemmer, Ai sees Estraven as both a man and a woman. Up until now, Ai sees... (full context)