Study Guide

The Left Hand of Darkness Chapter 4

By Ursula K. Le Guin

Chapter 4

The Nineteenth Day

  • Once again, we find ourselves reading a story within a story. This time, we're going to get some information on the Foretellers.
  • Enjoy.
  • Some dude named Lord Berosty rim ir Ipe asks the Foretellers when he will die. The Foretellers answer: Odstreth, the 19th day, any month.
  • As is the case with most prophecies, no more information is available, and Berosty freaks out every 19th day of every month afterward. Wouldn't you?
  • His kemmering (life partner), Herbor, goes to the Foretellers to get more information. He offers his life as the payment.
  • The Foretellers agree, and Herbor asks, "How long will Ashe Berosty rem ir Ipe live?" The answer, "Longer than Herbor of Geganner!" (4.16).
  • So, yay…kind of.
  • Herbor goes home to bells Berosty with the good—well, goodish—news. But Berosty is enraged at Herbor for not asking a better question.
  • In a Hulk-like rage, he smashes a table of red stone over his lovers head. Yikes.
  • Herbor dies, obviously. Well, he did offer his life as payment.
  • Berosty is really bummed out by what he's done. We're talking really bummed. In fact, he goes crazy and eventually hangs himself on the nineteenth day, thus fulfilling the prophecy.
  • Look, guys, if we've learned anything from Oedipus, it's that prophecies are always bad news.