I Choose You, Anarres!

Though I have no doubt that I prefer living in 2012 America to living in either of the two planets, Urras and Anarres, from Ursula le Guin’s novel The Dispossessed, if I had to make the choice I would more than likely end up on Anarres.

Urras seems to me to be a wholly undesirable culture. The architecture and environment seems nice enough, but everything on the planet is a product – including women as we see in Shevik’s discussion with the academics on Urras. A comfortable lifestyle isn’t worth living in a culture that seems so overwhelmingly fake and prepackaged.

On Anarres, however, the culture is exactly the opposite. Nothing is a product because there are no possessions. As much as I love my blu ray collection, if I had to choose between a culture of no possessions and a culture that consisted almost exclusively of possessions, I would go with the former.

Women also have far more rights on Anarres and are allowed to hold jobs they couldn’t even dream of having on Urras. They also have significantly more marital rights in that they can’t be bought and there is no marriage.

Taking the legality out of marriage is a romantic notion and one that I think keeps a loving partnership between two people true to the nature of a romantic relationship. However, I do believe there are some cons to taking legality out of marriage. With nothing legally binding two people, there is nothing other than their word to keep them from separating at the first sign of trouble or altercation when if they were bound legally and face with the prospects of a lengthy and stressful divorce they might be more inclined to fight for what they have. But the idea of partnership free of legality is a noble one and one to aspire to.

I also find the work ethic of the people of Anarres to be admirable. The people of Anarres work together as a whole to benefit one another, whether the job they do is glamorous or not. Does Shevik want to leave and do research? Probably not. But he does, because the culture values working for the greater good. Could that threaten individuality? Maybe to those of weak character, but I think working for the betterment of your culture and those around you is something to admire.

-Joshua Lawson

One Response to “I Choose You, Anarres!”

  1. Warren Rochelle says:

    If you were from the Terra in the novel–an ecological disaster–would you choose Anarres?