Study Guide

The Left Hand of Darkness Chapter 6

By Ursula K. Le Guin

Chapter 6

One Way Into Orgoreyn

  • Don't be fooled by the "I" here. It's Estraven's "I", not Ai's "I." This is great, because we finally get to see some of the events from Estraven's perspective.
  • Anyway. The cook wakes Estraven up and tells him a runner has come from the King's House.
  • The runner gives Estraven a paper and then nails it to his door. Never a good way to start the day.
  • Estraven packs his stuff and heads west, deciding he was "born to live in exile" anyway (6.5).
  • Yeah, why not. Thankfully, the chef packs him some food to help him get by.
  • He heads for a town called Kuseben. There, he meets his former kemmering, Ashe.
  • Estraven tries to sneak by, because conversations with ex-boyfriends are always tricky.
  • But Ashe follows him and tries to convince Estraven to let him come on exile too. Then Estraven brings up a broken oath, and things get a little heated. Awk-ward.
  • Then Ashe tries to get him some money, but Estraven declines even that. Super awkward.
  • Seems Estraven must bounce from the country by the sixth hour or else Tibe's men can legally have "justice done."
  • We're guessing murder-type justice here.
  • Estraven decides theft won't matter in the long run, since he's already a traitor, and promptly jacks a row boat.
  • Rowing away from the port, he spies two figures on the pier. One of them has a sonic gun with which he promptly blasts Estraven. He's doesn't die, but the shot hurts something fierce.
  • He rows as fast as he can toward Orgoreyn, his body going numb with each stroke. A patrol ship picks him up. Very unlucky.
  • However, his time's not up yet, so the boat's officer can't legally kill him.
  • Instead, he takes him to Shelt Port in Orgoreyn. So, some pretty lucky bad luck there.
  • Estraven regains full consciousness in a Commensal Hospital. A physician checks in on him and is promptly followed by an inspector.
  • Apparently, that's how they do their thing in Orgoreyn.
  • The inspector asks him for his papers and how he plans to return to Karhide. Estraven laughs, saying he'll return in a coffin.
  • Pretty dark sense of humor you have there, Estraven.
  • The inspector fumes a little, until the doctor pulls him aside and talks to him. Estraven is then asked if he's here for permanent residence.
  • Estraven works his way to Mishnory, his new home, by working as a landboat loader. It's probably just as fun as it sounds.
  • He moves up in the world (we think?) when he gets a job working in the ice-house, living in a place called Fish Island.  Sounds delicious.
  • Eventually, a guy named Commensal Yegey shows up at Fish Island and takes Estraven into his service.
  • Movin' on up again: Estraven is now Yegey's secretary.
  • Are you starting to think Estraven's planned this whole thing out? Because it sure isn't sounding much like lonely exile, here.
  • One day, Yegey calls Estraven to his study where Obsle, the Orgota Naval Trade Commission head, waits.
  • Wow, that's a whole lot of alien words. (Well, not "Naval Trade Commission." We got that.)
  • Obsle wants to know what Tibe has planned regarding the Sinoth Valley dispute. Estraven says Tibe wants to run Karhide like Orgoreyn.
  • Why? War, of course.
  • Obsle then brings up the Envoy, one Genly Ai, leading Estraven to believe Ai has asked permission to enter Orgoreyn.
  • Estraven confirms that Ai is indeed an alien from another world, though he's not a threatening alien. You know, the "we come in peace" rather than the "we come with ray guns" variety of alien.
  • Estraven tries to convince Obsle that Ai could really help out, maybe straighten out the whole Sinoth Valley dispute.
  • Obsle seems on the fence about the whole situation and asks Estraven to tell him everything he knows.
  • Looks like Ai's coming to Orgoreyn.