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.
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.
...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)
...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)
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)
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)