Study Guide

A Wizard of Earthsea Friendship

By Ursula K. Le Guin

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How do you tell people that you're friends – a note on Facebook or in a yearbook? In A Wizard of Earthsea, characters tell each other that they're really good friends by revealing their true names. That's pretty serious – after all, sending someone a BFF text doesn't give them magical power over you, whereas telling someone your true name in Earthsea sure does. So friendship is kind of a big deal in A Wizard of Earthsea, particularly because Ged is so bad at making friends. He has that in common with a lot of young literary heroes, it seems – people at Hogwarts are a little weirded out by Harry Potter and the staff at Battle School keeps the other student envious of Ender Wiggin. That's two reasons why friendship is important in Earthsea: 1) it's extra meaningful when magic's involved; and 2) it's super hard when you're a young kid with a lot of power and a good dose of pride.

Questions About Friendship

  1. There's not a lot of family in this book – Ged's mom died before he was one year old, his dad beats him, and his aunt ignores him until he shows some magic potential. Does that put more pressure on Ged to make friends? Or does it show that Ged is a loner, even from the beginning?
  2. Is it easiest to be friends with someone who matches you in age, gender, and social class? For instance, do you think Ged is friends with 1) Ogion, 2) Nemmerle, or 3) Serret?
  3. Does friendship ever lead Ged or Vetch into doing the wrong thing? Is friendship always a good thing, or are there times when you shouldn't be friends with someone?
  4. How does this book describe friendships? Are there particular things that friends do for each other in this book? How do these friendships differ from friendships in the real world?

Chew on This

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