WFW Discussion 1

Discussion questions for The Word for World is Forest


  • What is new and “alien”? What is (unfortunately, perhaps) all too familiar? Why would LeGuin create this balance?


  • Is (or was) the forest a utopia? Were there elements of utopia? What do we know about how the Athsheans live / lived? What do the Terrans know / think?


  • How are the Athsheans different from other subjugated / oppressed groups / classes we have read about this year?


  • Does it matter that this does not take place on Earth?


  • How would you compare and contrast the treatment of women / conceptions of gender across the two species?


  • What is the role of dreaming / singing for the Athsheans?


  • What’s in a name?
    • Athshean vs. creechie (Selver vs. Sam)
    • Terran vs. yumen


  • Whom do we feel inclined to support? Who are the emerging protagonists and antagonists?


  • What does the forest represent? Is this an environmentalist novel?


  • How does this novel challenge what it means to be a human? Are there connections to previous narratives from the year?


  • How is this an allegory for wars / colonization / slavery / settlers? Do any specific examples come to mind?