A Wizard of Earthsea
Man and the Natural World Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
"Rain on Roke may be drouth in Osskil," he said, "and a calm in the East Reach may be storm and ruin in the West, unless you know what you are about." (4.3)
"Drouth" is an old way of saying "drought" – which is to say, a big lack of rain and water. This is the Master Windkey telling Ged about the Balance. If you're counting, this is probably the one-billionth time that someone has told Ged about the Balance. And since we follow Ged, we're also getting the lesson about the Balance. Notice how often teachers tell Ged about this – we might say that this is one lesson that Le Guin really, really wants us all to get.
It was only the dumb instinctive wisdom of the beast who licks his hurt companion to comfort him, and yet in that wisdom Ged saw something akin to his own power, something that went as deep as wizardry. From that time forth he believed that the wise man is one who never sets himself apart from other living things, whether they have speech or not, and in later years he strove long to learn what can be learned, in silence, from the eyes of animals, the flight of birds, the great slow gestures of trees. (5.31)
Ged has just been saved from a coma by his otak, Hoeg, and this teaches Ged a lesson that he might not have learned so well at school: Ged realizes that he shouldn't set himself apart from nature. This is not only a big issue for Ged and his relation to the natural world, but also an issue that is important to his coming of age.
He stooped, and then softly picked it up in his two hands. It was the otak, its fine short fur all clogged with blood and its small body light and stiff and cold in his hands. (7.72)
Maybe we're just the type that coos over pictures of cute animals, but this part always gets us. After all, Ged basically has two friends – Vetch and the otak – and here he's failed in protecting this one friend. If the otak is a connection Ged has with the natural world, then how does it make us feel when the otak gets killed by Ged's shadow?