42 pages 1 hour read

Ursula K. Le Guin

The Left Hand of Darkness

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1969

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Chapters 11-15

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 11 Summary: “Soliloquies in Mishnory”

Estraven despairs that the semi-democratic process of the Orgota congress will lead to stagnation on the “Open Trade” question, and whether to openly invite the 11 members of Genly Ai’s delegation to present themselves, thus starting the process of relations with the Ekumen. Estraven is frustrated with Genly Ai’s ignorance of the subtleties of Gethen negotiation.

Being unemployed is illegal in Orgoreyn, so a newly independent Estraven works at a plastics factory. Estraven fasts and invokes dothe, a brief period of extraordinary strength that the Gethen can will into being. Winter bears down, and still no mention of Genly appears on the mass communications channels. Border skirmishes with Karhide continue, complicating the Open Trade negotiation process.

As the months pass, the commensals of the Mishnory senate openly flaunt Genly in public, but never discuss his alien nature, nor his mission. Estraven worries at the extent of control the Sarf have over Orgota mass media. Estraven continues to speak with Obsle on the question, but Obsle puts him off with polite dismissals.

Gaum continues to keep their eye on Estraven, believing them to be acting on behalf of Karhide to diminish Orgoreyn’s pride. Gaum attempts to seduce Estraven during kemmering, a sly and cynical act Estraven rejects in anger.