Study Guide

The Left Hand of Darkness Chapter 17

By Ursula K. Le Guin

Chapter 17

An Orgota Creation Myth

  • And what a creation myth it is. Be sure to check the whole shebang in your book. The details are lost in paraphrase.
  • Okay, in the beginning there is only sun and ice on the whole planet, but one day the sun melts the ice. Three shapes are melted from the ice and fall into an abyss.
  • The shapes eventually crawl back onto the ice. One shape uses the sun's excrement (delicious) to make the land. Another breathes onto the ice, melting it and making rivers and oceans. The final one creates the plants, trees, animals, and people.
  • The sun melts the three shapes, and the people drink them and come to life.
  • The first to wake up, Edondurath, is a giant and one mean jerk. He kills 36 of the original people by hulk-smashing them with his fist.
  • One named Haharath runs, but Edondurath catches up with him. Care to guess what happens? Yep, he's smashed too.
  • When Edondurath returns, he finds the last person has escaped.
  • He constructs a house from the frozen bodies of his fellow humans, clearly not considering the limited market value of a house built with corpses.
  • Edondurath enters kemmer while sleeping. The escapee comes back to the house, and the two couple. This is where all the people of Gethen come from.
  • Happy ending? Not quite.
  • Since the Gethenians were born in a (literal) house of flesh, death follows them everywhere.