Forging New Bonds

By Matthew H., 9th Grade

January 2021

In every conflict there is always an underdog, someone who is expected to lose, but that doesn’t mean all is lost for that person or group. These conflicts can be a war or even a football game. If the chances of winning are very small, one way the underdogs can prevail is by coming together with others. Ursula Le Guin demonstrates this in her books Planet of Exile and City of Illusions which are both works of sci-fi. Each story relates to our society because all the protagonists, though alien, struggle with something that is very similar to what humans have to endure. The books demonstrate that in order to defeat a formidable enemy, a small group of diverse people can succeed as long as they are united.

A formidable enemy can only be defeated with the help of others’ strength or wisdom. At first, the farborns and the native species on the Planet of Exile seem to have no similarities between them. They often fight and discriminate against each other just because they are different species. When the Gaal start to attack, the farborns come to assist the natives even though they have been hating each other for generations. Rolery doesn’t understand why the farborns would come to help, but the reason is actually quite simple. The farborns “can’t just sit there watching” the Gaal “kill off people slowly” and Agat explains how his relationship with an alien is possible because “she shared nothing at all with him”, but “the alienness between them” had “let them meet, and that in joining them together, freed them” (177). While the farborns and the natives seem entirely different, they come to realize the value of each other’s lives.  Rolery and Agat are able to unite because they are so different from each other. By joining together, they are able to be free of prejudice. Rolery and Agat set a precedent that their races can combine together to defeat the Gaal. Sometimes it may even take thousands of years for a person’s ideas to reach the right person where they can use that information to solve their own conflict. In the City of Illusions, the Earth is controlled by a powerful enemy called the Shing. The Shing erased Ramarren’s memory, and he built up a new life as Falk. Later on, the Shing restores the memory of Ramarren, but he needs the knowledge and experiences of Falk in order to defeat the Shing. When Ramarren reads the line of the poem that states “the name that can be named is not the eternal Name,” he remembers that “he was Falk, and he was Ramarren” (348).  The poem in the book almost directly relates to Falk. Even though his current name was Ramarren, it didn’t mean that it was his permanent name, meaning that he could still be Falk. The author of the poem probably never thought that his book could help free the Earth from a terrifying enemy, but unexpectedly it was an important step for Ramarren and Falk to defeat the Shing. The author is able to share his ideas and continue to make a lasting impact thousands of years later.

When people are able to unite, the fight becomes much easier, so that the underdog can succeed and rebuild their society. It is almost always true where if there are more people, the easier a problem will be because there are more people to help bear the weight of it. Ramerren and Falk were by themselves at first since they never existed to each other at the same time, but after reading the book, they were able to coexist in the same body and mind. The Shing have the ability to invade anyone’s mind and manipulate it to give them any information they want, so when Ken Kenyek invades Ramerren’s mind, he already thinks he’s won the battle. Suddenly Kenyek falls to the ground somehow defeated. What happened was that after the Shing had jumped Ramerren, he was “surprised by a second man” and it had been enough to “free Ramarren from the Shing’s Phase-control” (365). A famous saying goes that two heads are better than one, and it is literally seen in this scene. Since Ramerren and Falk were able to combine forces, they were able to take the Shing by surprise since he only suspected one person. By combining multiple forces, an enemy may be taken by surprise and be more manageable than before. In fact, when two forces unite, not only will they defeat their enemy, but the destruction brought on by battle will help create a stronger society.  After defeating the Gaal, many cities have been destroyed and many lives have been lost. Agat looks over the devastation but realizes that each species’ victories “were the same thing” and that “this was his fort, his city, his world; these were his people” (212). The farborns and the natives are able to connect and overcome their differences to make a whole new society. They now share the same hardships that the war brought and can now better understand each other. After each species showed their dedication to defending their land, they can now see each other as friends and establish a new home together out of the previously destroyed one. While war is brutal, it can bring realization and help people overcome their differences to unite with each other to see themselves as equals.