47 pages 1 hour read

Ursula K. Le Guin

The Lathe Of Heaven

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1971

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Symbols & Motifs


Le Guin gives symbolic names to the main characters of the narrative, sometimes using names that have multiple potential meanings, as if attempting to challenge the reader creatively. The chief example of this, as mentioned in the Character Analysis section, is the main character, George Orr. Le Guin is said to have admired the work of George Orwell, the speculative fiction author whose most famous work, 1984, bears significant similarities to The Lathe of Heaven: Both are set in an imagined future, and an individual strives for uniqueness and freedom while held captive in an authoritarian state that maintains complete control of his life.

The name Haber is derived from the Spanish infinitive meaning “to possess,” and also an approximation of the German “haben”: to have. Haber seeks to possess throughout the narrative, though his priority shifts in the novel from wanting to have control of George’s effective dreams to having the ability to dream effectively himself. Ironically, when Haber’s wishes are fulfilled and he gains possession of the ability to change reality with his dreams, he nearly destroys the world. The author cautions the reader to be careful about what one wants to possess.