Arren Accepts His Destiny

Jessica Harnsberger '07 English 65, Fantasy, Brown University, 2003

After meeting with the Masters of Roke in the Imminent Grove, Ged realizes that he must leave to seek out the evil force responsible for the weakening of magic in Earthsea. Ged chooses, for the first time, to invite another man to join him on the voyage. Without hesitation Arren, son of the Prince of Enlad, agrees to accompany the Archmage. However, after the other Masters begin to question Ged's decision, Arren suddenly fears that he will fail to live up to Ged's expectations, humbly admitting:

"But I am not Morred. I am only myself."

"You take no pride in your lineage?"

"Yes, I take pride in it -- because it makes me a prince; it is a responsibility, a thing that must be lived up to -- "

The Archmage nodded once, sharply. "That is what I meant. To deny the past is to deny the future. A man does not make his destiny: he accepts it or denies it. If the rowan's roots are shallow, it bears no crown." At this Arren looked up startled, for his true name, Lebannen, meant the rowan tree. But the Archmage has not said his name. "Your roots are deep," he went on. "You have strength and you must have room, room to grow. Thus I offer you, instead of a safe trip home to Enlad, an unsafe journey to an unknown end. You need not come. The choice is yours. But I offer you the choice. For I am tired of safe places, and roods, and walls around me." He ended abruptly, looking about him with piercing, unseeing eyes. Arren saw the deep restlessness of the man, and it frightened him. Yet fear sharpens exhilaration, and it was with a leap of heart that he answered, "My lord, I choose to go with you." [36-37]

Questions

1. Why does Le Guin choose to reveal Arren's true name in this passage, rather than at a later point in the story? What does his name suggest about his character and his future?

2. Does Ged's view of destiny remain consistent with the events of his own life, told both in A Wizard of Earthsea and The Tombs of Atuan?

3. Why does Ged choose for the first time to invite someone to come along on his journey? Why does he specifically choose Arren?

4. How does Arren's decision to go with Ged compare with Frodo's in The Lord of the Rings, when the hobbit chooses to leave the Shire and embark on a similar "unsafe journey to an unknown end"?

References

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


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Last modified 15 March 2004