A Wizard of Earthsea
by Ursula K. Le Guin
Some People of Earthsea
There are a lot of people on the islands of Earthsea, but there are four that we think make an interesting group:
- The fisherman of Gont who sells Ged a boat (8.4)
- The old man on West Hand who gives Ged a boat (9.2)
- The sorcerer of Vemish who tells Ged that he should leave (9.5)
- The innkeeper of Iffish who hints to Ged that he should keep moving (9.8)
These four all have a different reaction to Ged and his magic.
The fisherman sells Ged a boat at a high price; by contrast, the old man on West Hand just gives Ged a boat because you're supposed to be nice to wizards.
Similarly, while the sorcerer of Vemish and the innkeeper of Iffish have the same basic message for Ged – leave, please – they go about getting that message across in different ways. The sorcerer gives a blunt dismissal, while the innkeeper gives a more subtle dismissal (9.8).
So what? Well, for one thing, this shows us that people don't all treat wizards the same way. And this is a nice thing to know because it makes Earthsea seem a little more realistic. (We could look at our own world for examples of that. Let's say you have a nuclear weapon – does everyone treat you the same way?) Maybe that's why the final three encounters with these folks happen in such quick succession – and why Ged actually comments on that difference (9.8).