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Perelandra Chap. 13

An archived study of the second book of Lewis' theological science fiction Space Trilogy.

Perelandra Chap. 13

Postby Kanakaberaka » 19 Jun 2005, 05:04

Synopsis - The aquantic chase lasts throughout the night. Ransom observes human-like beings in the water which have nothing to do with either him or the King and Queen of Perelandra. Eventualy Ramsom falls asleep. He awakes to find only his fish and the Un-Man's floating on the vast empty sea. The Un-Man attempts to get Ransom's attention. Ransom ignores him beliving it to be simply annoyance. But as the form that was Weston continues talking, Ransom wonders if the real Weston has returned of if it's just a demonic deception

This is the most "Screwtapian" chapter of the book. Despair and doubt fill Ransom's mind as the chase comes to a close. Ransom's observations of the humanoid underwater dwellers causes him to question whether or not there is any purpose to his voyage to another planet. Tasting the seaweed has caused him to view his place on the planet differently.

The real Screwtape touch comes when Ransom's fish catches up with that of the Un-Man. Once again he calls out Ransom's name over and over. Yet there is something different about the voice. Could it be that the original Weston has returned to his body? Or is it just a ruse to gain Ransom's confidence? Does it really matter who is talking to Ransom if Weston has become a devil himself?
Weston gains Ransom's cautious attention because he has no memory of what has happened on Perelandra. Only a fear of "it", which he can not explain. Weston then goes on to spin a tale about how all our old superstitions about death are justified, something quite un-Westonlike. This causes Ransom to ask him "who are you?". Weston goes on with more talk about how the dead sink into "the rind" of time after they die. Ramsom points out to Weston that he never belived in God. And Weston quotes the Bible saying that "He's a God of the living, not of the dead". This is a diabolic twisting of meaning. In the book of Matthew, chapter 22 verse 32, it says "God is not the God of the dead, but of the living" meaning that in God's eyes everyone who has ever lived remains alive in His vision. Weston has twisted this verse to suit his own ends, to cause Ransom to fall into despair. And he comes close to doing so.
But Ransom will not let him get away with this ploy. Weston goes on to talk about a dream he had about being laid out for a funeral after his own death. Along comes a rotting corpse to warn him about the decay that awaits him in the grave. Finally enough is enough! All Ransom can do is yell "Shut up" at the wreck of his old nemisis. Around them the sea swells with breakers and Weston succeeds in dragging Ransom down physicaly into the deep water after failing to bring down his faith.
so it goes...
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Re: Perelandra Chap. 13

Postby Guest » 23 Jun 2005, 07:52

I always thought that it was part of the old Weston who came through in that scene but now its pretty obvious that Weston was long gone by that time and that it is all just a "ruse" to get Ransom to lower his guard somewhat, either physically or spiritually. It is one of the more complex chapters in the story if you ask me.

Or maybe the devil tried to get some sympathy...

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Sympathy for the Devil

Postby Kanakaberaka » 26 Jun 2005, 02:24

You are correct about Weston's return being a ruse to get Ransom to lower his guard. But I suspect that the true but damned Weston had indeed returned to his original body. Remember he asks Ransom "Where is...it?" Apparently Weston is under duress to drag down Ransom. Weston appears to have become a devil himself. It's almost as if he's like Wormwood from "The Screwtape Letters", learning how to decieve humans with a diabolical mentor.
Take for example the fact that Weston claims that all ghosts hate the living the way old women hate young girls, out of envy. That sounds like a line straight out of Screwtape to me. To make matters worse, he uses Ransom's knowlege of scripture against him with that remark about God being a God of the living, not of the dead. He want's to twist Ramsom's hope for salvation into despair by using his own first hand knowlege of life beyond death. Of course it is an afterlife without the presence of God which makes it Hell. The sad thing is that Weston's words are so credible because he has been there. I almost wonder why he does not take Ransom's advice - "Say a child's prayer if you can't say a man's..." But of course Weston is beyond redemption at this point.
so it goes...
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Re: Sympathy for the Devil

Postby .Ælfgifu. » 30 Jun 2005, 11:01

Kanakaberaka wrote:But of course Weston is beyond redemption at this point.


Is it fair to assume that, even at this extreme, even about Weston? I mean, in the context of the story it wouldn't make sense for Lewis to redeem Weston at this point and (given everything we know about his history and interactions with it) I don't suppose it would be easy to make a return plausible. I think it is important that Lewis had Ransom make the attempt, however; as long as Weston's body is alive I think we must assume that it would still be possible for his spirit to really be present (and apparently in conscious control of his actions). Heaven isn't ready to give up even Weston without a fight. Of course it is intended as a trick; that doesn't prevent it from being the last opportunity for Ransom to speak to the remnants of Weston. I especially enjoy the various spiritual struggles in Perelandra because they are portrayed so simply and naturally - the 'blockade' in the opening chapter, the glimpse of the 'miserific vision' on the floating island, the conversation in the dark and the final horror of the many-segmented insect - they all bear the hallmark of a real spiritual event as perceived by a mortal on this side of death. I find them far more convincing than the bright, cartoonish colours and action-hero angels of someone like Frank Perreti.
non lucem tenebrae, sed lux tenebras superavit
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Damned if I know?

Postby Kanakaberaka » 02 Jul 2005, 05:36

.Ælfgifu. wrote:Is it fair to assume that, even at this extreme, even about Weston? ... Heaven isn't ready to give up even Weston without a fight.


Quite true, but in this chapter it seems that Weston has given up on Heaven. Even though his will has been returned to his shattered body, he can only dwell on the horrors of an eternal existance without God. An unending sinking into...???... we don't know what. The saddest part is that Weston refuses to take Ransom up on his offer to recite a prayer and more importantly to admit his sins to God and beg forgiveness. Lewis leaves it up to our imagination why the great physicist refuses this last offer of salvation.
so it goes...
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Re: Damned if I know?

Postby Paul_Burgin » 09 Jul 2005, 10:28

Kanakaberaka wrote:
.Ælfgifu. wrote:Is it fair to assume that, even at this extreme, even about Weston? ... Heaven isn't ready to give up even Weston without a fight.


Quite true, but in this chapter it seems that Weston has given up on Heaven. Even though his will has been returned to his shattered body, he can only dwell on the horrors of an eternal existance without God. An unending sinking into...???... we don't know what. The saddest part is that Weston refuses to take Ransom up on his offer to recite a prayer and more importantly to admit his sins to God and beg forgiveness. Lewis leaves it up to our imagination why the great physicist refuses this last offer of salvation.

Maybe less refusal than inhability, or rather both!
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