The short story “The Rule of Names” by Ursula K. Le Guin is set in the fictional universe of Earthsea, on Sattins Island, during a sunny period in December.

Physical setting

The references to the physical setting of Earthsea indicate that it is formed of islands and water which are divided into regions like ‘Outer Reach’, ‘North Reach’, ‘East Reach or ‘West Reach’. The setting of the village is described on several occasions: “Then he went down to the village. (…) he passed them in the narrow street between houses with conical, overhanging roofs like the fat red caps of toadstools.” (p. 67, ll. 12-17); “…there in the wintry sunlight, sheep and children around her, a leafless oak above her, and behind her the dunes and sea and clear, pale sky.” (p. 68, ll.ll. 38-40)


Social setting

The rural society of Sattins Island is defined by superstitious beliefs: villagers believe that wishing someone a good morning will change the weather for the worse, and they believe in the rule of names: people should keep their true names for themselves, so as to avoid being controlled by others.

They are also a society where doctors do not exist, and wizards, mages, and warlocks fill their place. Furthermore, they are all illiterate, and at school, they only learn about traditions and superstitions.

But this village society has some similarities with typical and familiar depictions of rural society: the village has an old wise man (the sea captain),...


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