The Dispossessed Summary & Study Guide

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The Dispossessed Summary & Study Guide Description

The Dispossessed Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin.

The Dispossessed was written by Ursula Le Guin. This novel is about the radically different societies on two close planets. On Urras, there are multiple states, each with their own government. On Anarres, there is no government or economic system. Shevek, a physicist on Anarres, wants to break the rules of his world and travel to Urras, not only to speak with other physicists who understand and are excited by his theories, but to promote friendship between the two planets. However, when Shevek spends a little time on Urras, he discovers that utopia is not all he thought it would be. The Dispossessed is a novel of anarchy and individualism, of utopias and paradise.

Shevek travels to Urras despite the mild protest of many on his home planet of Anarres. When he arrives, Shevek is treated like a celebrity, but he finds the customs of Urras radically different from those he has known before. As Shevek settles in his new home, he learns that his hosts have brought him there for a reason, so that he can help them get an advance on space travel that will allow them to dominate not only their world, but many others as well. Shevek is not happy with this, and he is also not happy with the violent way in which Urras is governed. Shevek wants to promote peace and friendship, not help one state and rule all the others.

Shevek grew up on Anarres, a world without a government. Anything Shevek could want is there for the taking. However, Shevek grows up without his mother when she is transferred to another city and does nothing to return to her partner and child.

Shevek stands out from other kids even when he is little. Shevek is often accused of being an egoist even when all he is doing is attempting to share his ideas. As Shevek ages, he continues to feel like something of an outcast, especially when he is assigned to manual labor while his other friends go to university.

When Shevek is finally able to settle down to study physics, it is quickly discovered that his ideas and theories are far advanced. Shevek is sent to another university where he can learn from someone who is in communication with Urras and the scientists there. However, when Shevek begins to come up with theories that are considered too radical, his communications with Urras are refused. Shevek quickly becomes frustrated.

Shevek partners with a childhood friend, and they have a child together. Shortly after this, Shevek tries to send a manuscript that did not have prior approval to Urras. Afterward, he sent away for a manual labor job only to return to find his partner and child shipped off to another city. It is four years before Shevek is reunited with his family. Shevek begins to believe that this was a punishment for his actions.

Shevek and a friend begin a new syndicate, the Syndicate of Initiative, through which he publishes several books and makes his own transmitter to communicate with Urras. Talk of accepting settlers from Urras begins, but there is fear among their dissenters. For this reason, Shevek and his friend decide they must send someone to Urras. Shevek is chosen. Later, he returns wiser.

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