Ursula Le Guin’s Novella “The Word For World is Forest” Review

Ursula Le Guin’s novella ‘The Word For World is Forest’ depicts the coexistence of people in the aspects of race, technology, and human existence. It brings to life the differences and interactions amongst the three issues that affect human life. The three are manifest in modern human life, although the literature is set in the past and in a fictitious world.  The lessons within are, for this reason, applicable in modern-day existence. They can be used to develop impactful strategies and guide human beings on how to deal with each other by considering the behaviour of each group of persons.

In the aspect of the race, the resource offers information on the differences that exist in the perception of each other. The main groups under scrutiny are the Athsehans and Terrans.  The novel depicts the differences in how each one of the two groups is oriented. The Athsheans, being a group of indigenous people who live in the forest, are conservative (Le Guin 42). They are careful about how they conduct their activities to avoid negatively affecting the natural environment. They have a high level of morality that gives them a good degree of connection to their subconscious selves. On the contrary, the Terrans are a group of persons who have lost contact with their subconscious selves.  Their level of morality is wanting. Their poverty in mentality is seen in the way they handle nature and others.  They exploit the natural environment, colonize the indigenous inhabitants, and indulge themselves in the use of hallucinogens.  They have normalized behaviours that depict inadequacy in moral values.

The differences in the two races breed negative perceptions of each other.  The Athsheans, due to their conservative nature, view the Terrans as a group of people who have lost their way and deserve resistance. They justify killing the enemies based on the suffering they undergo in the hands of their colonial and slave masters (Le Guin 20). For this reason, they lose their connection with the moral life they used to have. Similarly, the Terrans have a negative view of the Athseans. They view them as primitive people who deserve enslavement and brutal treatment, owing to their backward nature of living and perceived inability to reason.  This perception is manifest amongst modern human beings. Mostly, Whites view Blacks as people who barely reason and have medieval-like lifestyles. Blacks and other people of colour, in response, seek revenge on their White nemesis.  The cycle has been and is likely to continue in the foreseeable future.

In the aspect of technology, different races are differently oriented. The Terrans, as depicted in the book, are people who have advanced technology.  Their racist perception, however, leads them to treat the Athseans as less human. They associate them with machines and animals.  It is for this reason that they enslave them to work as machines would do.  Technology and race are inseparable (Chude-Sokei). The depiction shows that racism is dependent and interconnected with technology. Some groups of human beings develop technology, while others are treated as the technology itself. Whites perceive themselves as well-endowed and advanced in the development and use of technology, while Black persons are viewed as primitive in the adoption of technology. For this reason, their existence is more closely associated with that of animals and as a form of capital than it is associated with other human beings.  It is for this reason that revolutions seeking the recognition of Blacks as human beings are still existent in the 21st century despite the long period that they have fought for better treatment.