30 pages 1 hour read

Ursula K. Le Guin

The Dispossessed

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1974

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Chapters 1-3

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 1 Summary

This chapter introduces the planet of Anarres: there is a sixty-acre, walled-in field as its only port, and foreigners never venture beyond its walls. From one perspective, the walled-in area is a quarantine. From another perspective, however, “the wall enclosed Anarres: the whole planet [is] inside it, a great prison camp” (2). As the action opens, there is a mob outside the wall, protesting, as a passenger from Anarres boards a ship, Mindful, bound for the planet Urras and the State of A-Io. The “traitor,” Shevek, is hit by a thrown rock before boarding the ship, and then put in quarantine to receive immunizations. He is despised by his countrymenbut treated as an “honored guest” on the ship, and assured he will be one on Urras as well (14). 

On the ship, he discusses the culture he will be visiting with Dr. Kimoe, an Urrasti and his sole companion. Shevek remarks on his confusion that, on Urras, women have a lower status than men—and that “superiority” and “inferiority” are such important concepts in general. Upon landing, he encounters a number of new experiences: the presence of large animals, the grandeur of his rooms, and the clear fascination he holds for the Urrasti.