Study Guide

The Lathe of Heaven Chapter 1

By Ursula K. LeGuin

Chapter 1

  • The novel starts, oddly enough, with a jellyfish.
  • The jellyfish is in the sea, doing jellyfish things. You know, like you would expect it to do.
  • But then everything changes. Land shoots out of the water, creating continents.
  • The scene changes again, and we meet a guy who has had his eyelids burned off. He's in the middle of a post-apocalyptic environment, and he's talking about radiation sickness… but at the same time, he's also inside in a room with a door that leads to a linoleum corridor. Wait—huh?
  • No explanation for that, folks. The people this dude encounters think that he's high or drunk, but the guy mentions something about dreams.
  • Turns out that this guy's been taking drugs illegally, so the medics who come to treat him write him up and send him into voluntary therapy.
  • A guy called Mannie takes the blame for George's (that's the guy) drug use, and keeps him out of even worse trouble. Then he talks about people suffering from diseases because they aren't getting enough food.
  • We're not sure what's going on, but this doesn't sound like a very nice future to be in.