Artifact Title: She Unnames Them

Medium: Text

Author: Ursula K. Le Guin

Publisher: The New Yorker

Story Title: She Unnames Them

Year: January 1985

Image Credit: Daphne Moss

TERA Curator: Judith Ellen Brunton

She Unnames Them

In this short story, Ursula K. Le Guin seems to respond to part of the Biblical creation narrative in Genesis 2:19: “So out of the ground the Lord God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name”(NSRV Bible). The “she” in Le Guin’s story unnames the animals and herself, and feels closer to understanding them, and herself, without the names.

“Most of them accepted namelessness with the perfect indifference with which they had so long accepted and ignored their names.”

“None were left now to unname, and yet how close I felt to them when I saw one of them swim or fly or trot or crawl across my way or over my skin, or stalk me in the night, or go along beside me for a while in the day. They seemed far closer than when their names had stood between myself and them like a clean barrier…”