The Sword and Laser discussion

The Left Hand of Darkness (Hainish Cycle #6)
This topic is about The Left Hand of Darkness
113 views
The Left Hand of Darkness > TLHoD: Shadows and Shifgrethor

Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Lena (last edited Jul 07, 2017 07:37AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lena I've been very interested in the use of shadow in this book, it seems to have deep and disparate meanings to the Karhide and the Orgoreyn.

Page 65 Estraven
I must learn to live without
shadows as they do in Orgoreyn; not to take offense; not to offend uselessly.


Page 70 Obsle
None of your damn shadowy Karhidish metaphors, now Estraven. I wave shifgrethor; I discard it.

Page 120/121 Genli Ai
yet each of them lacked some quality, some dimension of being; and they failed to convince. They were not quite solid. It was, I thought, as if they did not cast shadows.

It seems to imply a willfully absent depth of character in the people of Orgoreyn.

Page 200 Looks like shadows are a fundamental part of the Orgoreyn creation mythos.

Each of the children born to them had a piece of darkness the followed him about wherever he went by daylight. Edondurath said, "Why are my sons followed the spy darkness?" His kemmering said, "Because they were born in the house of flesh, therefore death follows at their heels. They are in the middle of time. In the beginning there was the son and the ice, and there was a shadow. In the end when we are done, the sun will devour itself and shadow will eat light, and there will be nothing left but the ice and the darkness."


Estraven and Genli Ai have both pointed out the Orgotha live without shadows.

Shifgrethor comes from the old word for shadow. Shifgrethor which is intrinsic to Karhide culture, the cautious game of pride, honor, manner, and esteem.


message 2: by Serendi (new)

Serendi | 754 comments Le Guin uses shadow as an important image in the Earthsea trilogy as well. I think their maybe some Jungian influence; I know she's into Taoism.

I used to know a lot about both. It's a lot fuzzier these days ... .sigh.


Poonam | 17 comments I'm not quite halfway so far, but I would disagree that Shifgrethor is equal to depth of character. To me, it's more related to individuals' perception of each other and the politics of power rather than someone's true self.


Brent (BrentDiggs) | 5 comments Lena wrote: "I've been very interested in the use of shadow in this book, it seems to have deep and disparate meanings to the Karhide and the Orgoreyn.

Page 65 Estraven
I must learn to live without
shadows a..."


Shifgrethor seemed to me to be akin to a tribal sense of honor/shame.

The Karhidish people, despite their technological lag, had a sense of honor and trust/trustworthiness that the shifty Orgoreyn government and the passive Orgoreyn people seemed to lack.

It was the Orgoreyn leaders, if I remember correctly, that lacked shadows. When Ai finds himself with the Orgoreyn commoners he says that they are the reality and solidity that the leaders seem to lack.


message 5: by Lena (last edited Jul 28, 2017 02:13PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lena ☯ "It's found on Earth, and on Hain-Davenant, and on Chiffewar. It is Ying and Yang. Light is the left hand of darkness... how did it go? Light, dark. Fear, courage. Cold, warmth. Female, male. It is yourself, Therem. Both and one. A shadow on snow."

I agree about shadows meaning different things in relation to shifgrethor to the Orgota and the Kharhide but it also seems clear that it has a deeper foundational meaning - something akin to religion. Whispers of Taoism.


back to top