30 pages 1 hour read

Ursula K. Le Guin

The Dispossessed

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1974

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Chapters 4-6

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 4 Summary

This chapter resumes Shevek’s journey to Abbenay, where he sees the Port for the first time. We learn that “decentralization had been an essential element in Odo’s plans,”but it is inevitable in a connected society (96). Shevek soon learns that Abbenay, Anarres’ de facto center, concentrates power in the very ways Odo hoped to avoid. His new mentor, Sabul, has power over him. Shevek begins to learn Urrasti so that he can read physics texts; in doing so, he learns that most of Sabul’s work is actually merely translation, not innovation. Sabul then sends Shevek’s commentary on Atro’s physics to Urras without Shevek’s knowledge. Shevek is at first surprised to learn that such an exchange is even possible given the two planets’ trade accords; he is also offended that Sabul has attached his name as co-author to Shevek’s work. In addition, Sabul wants him to continue to work in an area of physics that does not interest him, abandoning his passion for simultaneity theory. He realizes that his career “depend[s] on the continuance of a fundamental unadmitted profit contract…and exploitative relationship” with Sabul (117). Contemplating this injustice, he falls ill and is put in a medical ward, where his mother,