February 19th, 2017
ENGL 1003 – Analyzing Le Guin, Yeats and Dickinson
1. Passage from: The Word for World is Forest
This particular excerpt from The Word for World is Forest by Ursula K. Le Guin is rife with symbolism, and truly ties in to the novel’s essence. Through her eloquent use of descriptive language and imagery, Le Guin has managed to establish a beautiful scene through which she is able to communicate nature’s deeper significance in the plot. As this passage occurs right at the beginning of chapter two, there does not seem to be an obvious hint at a distinct speaker or discernable circumstances, however one can infer that this is a noticeably unique voice. This new narrative tone begins to formulate a fresh, eco-centric point of view that begins to shift the reader’s attention to the gravity of the environment. The light, colours, leaves, roots, water and trees are all characterized in a manner that perhaps suggests their connotation and agency within the novel, all while the anecdotal voice offers a pure sense of continuity within the natural realm. However, towards the end of the rather lengthy first paragraph of the second chapter, the tone changes as the descriptive voice begins to lament. The speaker ultimately mourns the great loss of what existed prior to the arrival of humans through comparing what the world has been, to what it has become—perhaps all in anticipation of a future geographical heterotopia. Conclusively, after reading this passage in full it is evident that the speaker is perchance one of the native Athsheans, as Le Guin has given the reader the chance to see the world through the eyes of “yumans”, and now we can see the world on the side of cultural relativism.
Now, if we have a look at the mechanics of this passage, we are truly able to see the linguistic genius that Le Guin was able to employ here. When the speaker says “Revelation was lacking”, this could mean one of three things. For one, it could mean that in this world there was a deficiency in the amount of personal and individual discoveries, or two, it could mean that there was less surprise and discovery in this world. In addition, the third meaning could be that there has been a shortage of disclosures from divine or supernatural sources. This is particularly interesting because in science fiction, there is always question of a God and creation, therefore it leaves undertones such as these open for interpretation. So, in this world, were there less declarations from God? Does this mean in the old world, there were plenty? It is clear that these messages Le Guin has sent us all tie in to the mystery of nature.
In conclusion, this passage sheds light on the importance of the forest in this novel. The forest is unequivocally an adjoined web of organisms, coexisting in a peaceful symbiosis that breeds beauty and life. In the forest, things are not black and white, transparent and uncomplicated. Here, things are intricate, involved and...