She Unnames Them Analysis

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 762 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Mar 25, 2024

Words: 762|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Mar 25, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Body Paragraphs
  3. Counterarguments
  4. References (Continued)


In the realm of feminist literature, Ursula K. Le Guin's "She Unnames Them" holds a significant place. This short story, published in 1985, offers a profound exploration of language, power, and identity. This essay will delve into the specific aspect of the reclamation of identity through unnaming, analyzing its implications on the female protagonist's self-perception and her relationship with the world around her.

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Body Paragraphs

Le Guin's protagonist subverts the traditional role of Adam, who named the animals in the Garden of Eden, by unnaming them. This act is not a mere reversal of the naming process but a profound reclamation of power and identity. The protagonist's unnaming is a rebellion against the patriarchal structure that imposed those names, and thus, those identities (Le Guin, 1985). This perspective aligns with the theories of French feminist Hélène Cixous, who argues that language is a tool of patriarchal power, and reclaiming it is crucial for women's liberation (Cixous, 1976).

Scholars have extensively analyzed the significance of unnaming in Le Guin's work. According to Donna Haraway, a prominent feminist scholar, Le Guin's unnaming is a "refusal of the name of the Father" (Haraway, 1989, p. 181). This refusal, Haraway argues, allows the protagonist to establish a new relationship with the animals, one based on mutual respect and understanding rather than hierarchy and domination.

The transformative power of unnaming is evident in the protagonist's changing relationship with the animals. For instance, the snake, once named "Enemy" and "Betrayer," is unnamed and becomes a companion to the protagonist. This shift signifies a rejection of the patriarchal narrative that casts the snake as a villain and a reclaiming of the protagonist's own narrative (Le Guin, 1985).

The act of unnaming in "She Unnames Them" also signifies a deeper connection to nature. By rejecting the names given by Adam, the protagonist also rejects the human-imposed hierarchy on the natural world. This rejection allows her to see the animals as they truly are, not as objects to be named and controlled but as beings with their own intrinsic worth. This perspective aligns with ecofeminist theories, which argue that the domination of nature is linked to the domination of women, and that liberation for both requires a rejection of hierarchical power structures (Merchant, 1980).

The transformation of relationships through unnaming is not limited to the protagonist's relationship with the animals. It also extends to her relationship with Adam. By unnaming the animals, the protagonist challenges Adam's authority and redefines their relationship. This shift is evident in their dialogue, where the protagonist asserts her newfound autonomy and Adam, though initially resistant, eventually acknowledges and respects it (Le Guin, 1985).


Critics might argue that unnaming could lead to a loss of identity rather than a reclamation. However, Le Guin's story suggests the opposite. The protagonist does not lose her identity but rather redefines it on her own terms. The unnaming process is not an erasure but a transformation, a shedding of imposed identities to reveal the authentic self.

Another potential counterargument is that the act of unnaming could be seen as a rejection of community and shared understanding. After all, names are a way of categorizing and understanding the world collectively. However, Le Guin's story suggests that the unnaming is not a rejection of community but a redefinition of it. The protagonist does not isolate herself but rather forms a new community based on mutual respect and understanding, as seen in her relationships with the animals and, eventually, with Adam.

In conclusion, "She Unnames Them" offers a profound exploration of the power dynamics inherent in language and naming. Through the act of unnaming, the protagonist reclaims her identity, challenges patriarchal structures, and forms new relationships based on mutual respect and understanding. This analysis underscores the importance of critically examining the language we use and the power dynamics it reflects and reinforces. It also highlights the potential for language to be a tool of liberation and transformation. Future research could further explore the implications of unnaming in other contexts, such as postcolonial literature, where reclaiming language is a crucial aspect of cultural identity. It could also delve deeper into the ecofeminist themes in Le Guin's work, examining the connections between the domination of nature and the domination of women, and the potential for liberation through a rejection of hierarchical power structures.

References (Continued)

Cixous, H. (1976). The Laugh of the Medusa. Signs, 1(4), 875-893.

Haraway, D. (1989). Primate Visions: Gender, Race, and Nature in the World of Modern Science. Routledge.

Le Guin, U. K. (1985). She Unnames Them. New Dimensions 12, 21-30.

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Merchant, C. (1980). The Death of Nature: Women, Ecology, and the Scientific Revolution. Harper & Row.

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Dr. Oliver Johnson

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She Unnames Them Analysis. (2024, March 25). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 20, 2024, from
“She Unnames Them Analysis.” GradesFixer, 25 Mar. 2024,
She Unnames Them Analysis. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 20 Apr. 2024].
She Unnames Them Analysis [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Mar 25 [cited 2024 Apr 20]. Available from:
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