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When is a Novel not a Novel: When It is Used to Teach Political Science
Unformatted Document Text:  Le Guin’s text suggests that the actual role of women in society is different than has been portrayed. For example, Demaere Oiie treated his wife, Sewa, “with courtesy, even delicacy….he trusted her” (147). Even more provocative, is the assertion of Vea, Oiie’s sister, that women actually “run the men.” Moreover, she says that “it’s perfectly safe to tell them because they never believe it” (215). This discrepancy between a supposed and real social distinction, is mirrored by a very similar, economic one. The Anarresti have been taught to revile the “propertarian” economy of A-Io. Shev’s hosts, however, seek to convert this revulsion into admiration. “They took him through an electronic parts factory, a fully automated steel mill, and a nuclear fusion plant, so that he could see how efficiently a propertarian economy ran” (83). On Saemtenevia Prospect Shev is shown two miles of “things to buy” (131). Even with all of this production, A-Io is said to have “led the world for centuries in ecological control and the husbanding of natural resources, because they recognized the potential “to drain irreplaceable natural resources or to foul the environment with waste products” (82). The example of Oiie’s grandfather, a janitor, suggests that society in A-Io is classless (151). However, the glories of this capitalist economy belie the “real” Nio (199). By the end of Shev’ visit to A-Io it is apparent that, in fact, their society is made up of classes and castes (77, 128). Freed from his handlers, Shev escapes to explore the “other” side of life in A-Io. His assigned servant, Efor, illustrates the “real” Nio by graphically describing the hospitals that treat the poor in A-Io; hospitals like the one where his daughter, Laia, died. “Dirty. Like a trashman’s ass-hole” (283). Efor expsoes Shev to things with which “he no experience of at all:” “Rats, a poorhouse, a pawnshop, an execution, a thief, a tenement, a dead baby in a ditch” (284). In the end, Shev

Authors: Connor, George.
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Le Guin’s text suggests that the actual role of women in society is different than has been
portrayed. For example, Demaere Oiie treated his wife, Sewa, “with courtesy, even
delicacy….he trusted her” (147). Even more provocative, is the assertion of Vea, Oiie’s
sister, that women actually “run the men.” Moreover, she says that “it’s perfectly safe to
tell them because they never believe it” (215). This discrepancy between a supposed and
real social distinction, is mirrored by a very similar, economic one.
The Anarresti have been taught to revile the “propertarian” economy of A-Io.
Shev’s hosts, however, seek to convert this revulsion into admiration. “They took him
through an electronic parts factory, a fully automated steel mill, and a nuclear fusion
plant, so that he could see how efficiently a propertarian economy ran” (83). On
Saemtenevia Prospect Shev is shown two miles of “things to buy” (131). Even with all
of this production, A-Io is said to have “led the world for centuries in ecological control
and the husbanding of natural resources, because they recognized the potential “to drain
irreplaceable natural resources or to foul the environment with waste products” (82). The
example of Oiie’s grandfather, a janitor, suggests that society in A-Io is classless (151).
However, the glories of this capitalist economy belie the “real” Nio (199).
By the end of Shev’ visit to A-Io it is apparent that, in fact, their society is made
up of classes and castes (77, 128). Freed from his handlers, Shev escapes to explore the
“other” side of life in A-Io. His assigned servant, Efor, illustrates the “real” Nio by
graphically describing the hospitals that treat the poor in A-Io; hospitals like the one
where his daughter, Laia, died. “Dirty. Like a trashman’s ass-hole” (283). Efor expsoes
Shev to things with which “he no experience of at all:” “Rats, a poorhouse, a pawnshop,
an execution, a thief, a tenement, a dead baby in a ditch” (284). In the end, Shev


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