Always Coming Home Study Guide

Always Coming Home

Always Coming Home by Ursula K. Le Guin

Always Coming Home is a 1985 novel by Ursula K. Le Guin about the Kesh, a fictional group of people living in California in the future. Part of the book tells the story of Stone Telling, a Kesh woman who lived among the militaristic and patriarchal society of the Condor people. The rest of the book is a collection of essays on the Kesh, who are opposed to modern society, as well as examples of their folklore and rituals.

The book weaves around the story of a Kesh woman called Stone Telling, who lived for years with her father's people—the Dayao or Condor people, whose society is rigid, patriarchal, hierarchical and militarily expansionist. The story fills less than a third of the book, with the rest being a mixture of Kesh cultural lore (including poetry, prose of various kinds, mythos, rituals, and recipes), essays on Kesh culture, and the musings of the narrator, "Pandora". Some editions of the book were accompanied by a tape of Kesh music and poetry.

Pandora describes the book as a protest against contemporary civilization, which the Kesh call "the Sickness of Man". Pandora muses that one key difference is that due to cumulative genetic damage, the Kesh have a high infant mortality rate—there are many fewer of them than there are of us. They use such inventions of civilization as writing, steel, guns, electricity, trains, and a computer network (see below). However, unlike most neighboring societies, they reject government, a non-laboring caste, expansion of population or territory, disbelief in what we consider supernatural, and human domination of the natural environment. They blend millennia of human economic culture by combining aspects of hunter-gatherer, agriculture, and industry, but reject cities; indeed, what they call towns would count as villages now.

The cultural lore has attributions or annotations such as an ethnographic fieldworker might make. A number of these are attributed to another Kesh woman, Little Bear Woman; the name is a fair equivalent of the author's first name, "Ursula", which is Latin for little she-bear .

You'll need to sign up to view the entire study guide.

Sign Up Now, It's FREE
Source: Wikipedia, released under the Creative Commons Attributions/Share-Alike License