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Perelandra Chap. 14

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

Perelandra Chap. 14

Postby Kanakaberaka » 11 Jul 2005, 02:27

Synopsis : Ransom has a lucky break when he surfaces on a mysterious darkened beach. After strangling the Un-Man to death, Ransom awaits the dawn. But it does not arrive. Some exploring in the dark reveals the beach to be in some sort of cave. His only hope is to climb out in total darkness. After hours of cautious climbing, Ransom finds an illuminated opening in the cavern's roof. Climbing through, Ransom discovers the source of the light is molten lava! To make matters worse, the Un-Man and an giant insect ally have followed him into the volcanic chamber. Ransom does not allow the Um-Man time to say more than one sentence. Ransom dispatches him with a prayer and a rock thrown to the head. The huge insect no longer seems threatening now that the Un-Man is dead (again), and he leaves Ransom in peace. Ransom compleates the destruction of Weston's body by throwing it into the molten lava below.


To me this chapter seems to parallel the burial of Jesus in the tomb. If you think of Ransom's being dragged underwater by the Un-Man a sort of baptism by force, Ransom's escape is into a crypt. It was interesting how Ransom kept thinking of classic literature such as the Iliad and the Odyssey, the Song of Roland, Paradise Lost and even Lewis Carol's Hunting of the Snark to keep sane. It reminded me of a quote by Issac Asimov (I think) that no intelligent person should ever be bored. I suppose having an inventory of the classics commited to memory helps better than re-runs of TV sit-coms.
Weston reminds me of one of those teen horror film villains who can never be killed. Friday the 13th part 25, etc... The oversized bug who no doubt helped the terminaly damaged Weston travel through the cavern was a nice science fiction touch. It explained how such an seriously injured man could travel such an obsticle course in the dark. Ransom made a very casual pray as he hurled the stone at Weston's possesed body - "In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, here goes - I mean Amen". It's as if Ransom is working in tandem with the Holy Trinty.
Weston's body being burned in the lake of fire seems to reflect the message of scripture about Hell. But instead of eternal punishment, it makes Weston's fate almost a relief - an end to his physical being to finish his usefullness to Satan. Still it saddens me to think of such a man's eternal afterlife. The only consolation is that maybe his mind is out of it's senses and he has no idea what is happening to him.
so it goes...
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Surprised By Bugs

Postby Kanakaberaka » 12 Jul 2005, 00:20

There is more significance to Weston's giant insect ally than simply the part of a "Bug Eyed Monster". C.S. Lewis wrote of his great fear of insects in his autobiography "Surprised By Joy". His fear apparently dated back to a children's book his mother had given him. There was an illustration of a "Tom Thumb" type character (knee high to a grasshopper?) standing atop a toadstool being threatended by a stag beetle much larger than himself. Lewis adds: "This was bad enough; but there is worse to come. The horns of the beetle were strips of cardboard separate from the plate and working on a pivot. By moving a devilish contraption on the verso you could make them open and shut like pincers: snip-snap-snip-snap- I can see it while I write."
(On a personal note, it sounds like just the sort of book my daughter would love to play with. But I digress.)
This nasty children's book apparently gave the young Lewis nightmares. In fact he says there were two types of monsters in these bad dreams: specters and insects. The scene at the entrance to the volcanic chamber features both of these. The Un-Man was certainly a zombie and the giant insect was right out of Lewis' nightmares.
But this fear of insects did not follow Lewis all his life. In his late teen years he took an interest in entomology. This objective study of insects quelled his fears. Interestingly, after Ransom knocks down the Un-Man for the last time, the giant insect no longer appears threatening to him but more "Like an animated corridor train". Lewis' friend, Owen Barfield once commented that: "' The trouble about insects is that they are like French locomotives - they have all the works on the outside'". Lewis went on to mention his impression of insects being machines brought to life, or of living things degenerating into machines. Also the hive, or collective living along with the dominance of the female in insect society made Lewis uneasy.
so it goes...
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Re: Surprised By Bugs

Postby Paul_Burgin » 19 Jul 2005, 10:21

Apparently Tolkein had a fear of spiders.
But that scene with Weston behind the bug is unnerving when you think that he has already been killed, it's almost like a classic horror film scene. The other interesting thing is when Ransom throughs Weston's body into the furnace below. How similar is that to the Ring in 'The Lord of the Rings' being thrown into the Crack of Doom.
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Zombies & spiders & bugs, Oh My!

Postby Kanakaberaka » 20 Jul 2005, 05:48

Paul_Burgin wrote: The other interesting thing is when Ransom throughs Weston's body into the furnace below. How similar is that to the Ring in 'The Lord of the Rings' being thrown into the Crack of Doom.


I had not thought of the similarity of those scenes. You have me wondering why Lewis did not have Ransom fight the Un-Man at the edge of the lava flow untill he could throw him in. It would have been more exciting. Lewis obviously had something else to say. The fact that Weston's body fell over "like a pencil" after Ransom shamshed his head with a rock must have some significance. The burning of Weston's body seems to be merely a precaution. Almost as if Rasom wanted to put Weston out of any further misery since the Un-Man was of no real threat at this point.
so it goes...
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Re: Zombies & spiders & bugs, Oh My!

Postby Paul_Burgin » 23 Jul 2005, 14:27

Kanakaberaka wrote:
Paul_Burgin wrote: The other interesting thing is when Ransom throughs Weston's body into the furnace below. How similar is that to the Ring in 'The Lord of the Rings' being thrown into the Crack of Doom.


I had not thought of the similarity of those scenes. You have me wondering why Lewis did not have Ransom fight the Un-Man at the edge of the lava flow untill he could throw him in. It would have been more exciting. Lewis obviously had something else to say. The fact that Weston's body fell over "like a pencil" after Ransom shamshed his head with a rock must have some significance. The burning of Weston's body seems to be merely a precaution. Almost as if Rasom wanted to put Weston out of any further misery since the Un-Man was of no real threat at this point.


But isn't Weston, by this stage, in permanent misery!
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figure of speech?

Postby Kanakaberaka » 24 Jul 2005, 03:52

Paul_Burgin wrote:But isn't Weston, by this stage, in permanent misery!


You have a point there Paul. Sending anyone to certain damnation would appear to make his misery permanent rather than lifted from it. But if it is true that those in Hell are without their wits, unable to comprehend what is going on (as Weston suggested) then would he be better off dead than forced to be a zombie slave of the Devil? It's a hard call. When I used the term "put out of his misery" I was simply using a euphemism for kill. You have brought up an unintended consequence to ponder.
so it goes...
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Re: figure of speech?

Postby .Ælfgifu. » 24 Jul 2005, 19:40

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, here goes - I mean Amen.


This is one of my favourite ever prayers.

Since Weston has rejected his final chance of redemption and is now definitely beyond death, I suspect that Ransom's reason for destroying the body was precautionary. Whether Weston is still an individual, or still present in what was his body, or in fact anything but a lingering resentment and hatred conscious only of pain and denying even that is unclear at this point. What is clear is that his body is still animate and still under the control of some supernaturally evil being. When 'killed' in the cave below he (or it) lay still for a long time, allowing Ransom to get away - not a thing that would happen by chance - he (or it) must have been really rendered incapable of continuing the fight for a while. A further 'killing' - this time actually smashing in the head with a rock - is no garuntee of permanant death but still puts it (or him) out of action long enough for the final reasonable step - the utter destruction of the cursed body by fire which once and for all time utterly denies the devil of a foothold in Perelandra. It is clearly necessary, even if it makes no difference at all to what remains of Weston.
non lucem tenebrae, sed lux tenebras superavit
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