30 pages 1 hour read

Ursula K. Le Guin

The Dispossessed

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1974

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Character Analysis


Shevek is a tall, thin, longhaired physicist. He is described as “very beautiful,” with light hair (60). Born to Rulag (“the mother”) and Palat (“the father”), he is raised mostly in a school dormitory, where he struggles to fit in to Anarres’ collectivist society. He is an independent thinker from an early age; although he believes in Odo’s principles, he also feels strongly compelled to follow his own interests in mathematics and physics, even though his ideas quickly surpass other Anarresti and render him an intellectual island. As a young man in Abbenay, he isolates and overworks himself. However, after reconnecting with his childhood friend Bedap, he begins to see that others share his revolutionary spirit, and his belief that Odinian society must make more room for individuals to pursue their own interests and desires. After partnering with Takver and fathering two daughters, he travels to Urras to prove to the PDC that the Syndicate of Initiative is willing to put its ethos into action.

On Urras, Shevek is tested, but his adherence to Odo’s ideals is further confirmed. He is awed by the abundance of the planet, but also shocked by the rampant capitalism, the divide between genders, and the general importance of “superiority” as a concept in social interactions.