Arren and Ged's Multifaceted Relationship

David Washington '07 English 65, Fantasy, Brown University, 2003

Ursula K. LeGuin's The Farthest Shore presents the story of the most powerful mage in the world Earthsea, Sparrowhawk, and a young prince named Arren. After a mysterious magic inhibiting evil surfaces on Arren's homeland, the two set out on a quest to right the intrinsic wrong of this situation. Early in their journey, Arren and Sparrowhawk discuss the properties of magic and the dilemma's possible causes. From this conversation, the reader gains valuable insight to the quality of Earthsea magic, as well as LeGuin's framework for the magic inArren and Ged's Multifaceted Relationship

LeGuin's novel follows the journey of the powerful, well known Archmage Sparrowhawk and the comparatively ordinary young prince, Arren. Together, they experience a dynamic relationship. Arren in particular undergoes many changes in his judgment of the reserved Ged. Upon meeting Ged for the first time Arren, although from a royal background, strangely feels humbled in Ged's presence. In general, he shows respect for Ged. Accepting Sopli into their company, however, disturbs him.

Arren spoke with heat, and though Sparrowhawk answered quietly, there was something of a fierce note in his voice. He was not used to being questioned. But ever Since Arren had tried to protect him from the madman on the road that afternoon and had seen how vain and unneeded his protection was, he had felt a bitterness, and all that uprush of devotion he had felt in the morning was spoilt and wasted. He was unable to protect Sparrowhawk; he was not permitted to make any decisions; he was unable, or was not permitted, even to understand the nature of their quest. He was merely dragged along on it, useless as a child. But he was not a child. [120-121]


1. What type of labels could we apply to Ged and Arren's relationship?

2. Why might Arren have such a passion for wanting to protect Ged?

3. Aside from the reasons that Arren explicitly states, what other reasons might Arren have for not wanting Sopli to accompany them on their journey?

4. The last few sentences of the passage contain repetitions of words and structure. Why would LeGuin write this way?

5. Since having met Arren, does Sparrowhawk change in any way?


Le Guin, Ursula K. The Farthest Shore. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1972.

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Last modified 15 March 2004