Standing Ground by Ursula Le Guin

Topics: Ursula K. Le Guin, Pregnancy, Abortion Pages: 7 (2554 words) Published: June 28, 2008
As with most authors, Ursula Le Guin bases most of her stories and novels on her beliefs and disbeliefs. She is an atheist and relies more on philosophy than religion. Perhaps that is why "Standing Ground," a story that deals with abortion, was written with no objectivity. Le Guin had no religious beliefs interfering with her intended theme. Many of her stories are based on Taoism, where there is good in every evil and evil in every good. In her writings, Le Guin addresses enduring human problems. She also likes to write about children and their search for identity. Le Guin believes that to become an adult, an individual must "find ways of realizing the great potential in the unknown (Heller 1451)." "Standing Ground" is about a girl who has been thrust into the unknown world of adulthood. She encounters many obstacles but tries to find the good in them. Therefore, by Le Guin's standards, this girl is not a girl at all; she is a woman. Thus the story suggest that maturity does not always come with age; sometimes a child is forced to be an adult and serve as the only source of loving care and support.

The plot of this story is about one girl's struggle to overcome the categorization of being young, while at the same time helping her brain damaged mother get an abortion. The story opens mid-afternoon, as the two main characters, Delaware and Sharee,approach an abortion clinic. Standing outside the clinic are Mary and Norman, two prolife demonstrators who assume that Delaware, because of her age, is having the abortion. In the midst of their chanting and sign waving Norman grazes Delaware's should with his sign; this is an invasion of privacy that Delaware battles throughout the story. Once inside the clinic, the receptionist, as well as two nurses, also assumes that Delaware is the one who is pregnant and talk to her as if she were a child. Sree begins to day dream in the waiting room. At this point, the reader find out that Delaware is Sharee's daughter, that Sharee is brain damaged, and that Sharee is pregnant due to date rape. After battling many age related assumptions and obstacles, Delaware helps her mother through the abortion only to have her mother refer to her as a "baby." Outside, Mary and Norman share their views on abortion. They later have a child like argument which proves them to be immature.

As an adolescent, Delaware has been forced to mature at an early age. She has faced many common problems of growing up. On a daily basis Delaware has to fight to be taken seriously as an adult. This is shown throughout the story as the employees in the clinic talk to her in a child like tone. Through all of this, Delaware must also try and make plans to attend college. During a conversation in the waiting room, the nurse asks Delaware if she plans on attending college. After a thoughtful pause, Delaware admits to the nurse that she would like to. However, in the back of her mind Delaware knows that she will probably never go to college because she must stay take care of her mother. It is the constant care of her mother that causes Delaware to face a slew of adult problems as well. It was Delaware who made all of the necessary appointments for Sharee to get her abortion. During the ordeal of the abortion, she had to deal with insurance and finance, as well as translating the doctor's technical talk about the procedure into terms that Sharee could understand. Delaware is not happy with her life, but has found somewhat of a balance of the good and bad that she faces and accepts it. Clute notes that just as in Le Guin's other writings, this is the sign of true maturity (572).

Other than recognizing the balance between what she wants and what she has, Delaware also exhibits many other common characteristics of a grown adult. While dealing with Sharee, Delaware has what seems to be infinite patience. For example, the clinic workers repeatedly mistake Delaware for the patient. Every time...
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