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Perelandra Chap. 15

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

Perelandra Chap. 15

Postby Kanakaberaka » 18 Jul 2005, 06:45

Ransom continues his perilous journey to the surface of Perelandra. At one point he falls into a swiftly moving river and fears that he will fall into the volcanic gorge! Instead he finds himself floating out of the cavern and into a calm, shallow pool. Ransom recuperates on the shore of this oasis on a mountain. After a while he takes the time to chisle a memorial to his late nemisis, Doctor Weston, on the crystal rock which made up the cave opening. Days later he does some exploring and in addition to some wonders, discovers another "cosmic coffin" waiting for him.

This chapter starts in wonder. Ransom travels through a subterranean world which reminds me of that part of "The Silver Chair" where the children, prince and Puddleglum escape from the witch's lair. The part where Ransom thinks he sees a huge throne room, too big for humans intrigued me. Was it something from the distant past or is it meant for the young king and queen of Perelandra?
The wonder soon turns to peril as Ransom falls into the underground river. And yet I was not too worried about Ransom's fate. Would Lewis allow his protagonist to die a firey death in the same molten lava he threw the body of Weston into? Of course not. And so I expected the relief Ransom had as he found himself on the shore of the mountain pool.
The curious thing about Ransom's healing by the planet Venus is the one injury that does not heal. The bite on his heel (we are not told whether it was his left or right foot) remains. What is the significance of this wound? At first I thought it could be a reference to Achilles' weak spot. Then I realized it could symbolize humanity's weakness - original sin. In Genesis Chap. 3 verse 15 God says to the serpent : " I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." The bite mark on Ransom's heel could be a reference to this battle we all have with the diabolic. Also, just as Jesus carried the marks of the crucifixion after his resurrection, maybe Ransom must carry this ancient mark after his own return from the underworld.
One of the wonders Ransom hears while recuperating is an unidentifiable musical melody in the air. At first I thought it could have be voices of eldils looking over him. But later, during Ransom's walk down the mountain we find the sound to be the work of an unusual shy beast shaped like a dog and about the size of a horse. This horse/dog is very reluctant to approach Ransom, in spite of Ransom's good intentions. I wonder why the beast should act that way? For some reason I thought of the legend of the unicorn who could only be captured by laying it's head in the lap of a maiden.
We know that things are about to come full circle when Ransom sees the coffin shaped conveyance waiting for him by the shore. But the real shocker comes when he perceives subtle effects in the light next to him. Two eldila stand next to him, so all Ransom can do is stand in respectfull silence.
so it goes...
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Memento Mori

Postby Kanakaberaka » 24 Jul 2005, 04:14

After Ransom carves a memorial to Weston into the translucent cliff he chides himself saying : "That was a tomfool thing to do... No one will ever read it. But there ought to be some record. He was a great physicist after all". Is Ransom being overly pessimistic at this point? After all, it is the dawning of a new age for Perelandra. Doesn't he have any hope that the King and Queen will meet each other again and populate their world? Or does he think that by the time they do, Weston's memorial would be eroded away by the elements? Or maybe that the taboo against living on the fixed land would still be in effect?
I found it interesting that instead to saying that Weston died on Perelandra, Ransom wrote : "...HE GAVE UP HIS WILL AND REASON TO THE BENT ELDIL". Even Ransom was not certain about exactly when Weston had in fact died.
so it goes...
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Re: Memento Mori

Postby .Ælfgifu. » 24 Jul 2005, 19:47

Kanakaberaka wrote:After Ransom carves a memorial to Weston into the translucent cliff he chides himself saying : "That was a tomfool thing to do... No one will ever read it. But there ought to be some record. He was a great physicist after all". Is Ransom being overly pessimistic at this point? After all, it is the dawning of a new age for Perelandra. Doesn't he have any hope that the King and Queen will meet each other again and populate their world? Or does he think that by the time they do, Weston's memorial would be eroded away by the elements? Or maybe that the taboo against living on the fixed land would still be in effect?


Well, it is fairly clearly indicated in the next chapter that the taboo about the fixed land is removed for ever, though I suppose Ransom does not know that yet. The elements on Perelandra seem to be on the whole fairly kindly, so I think we can rule out erosion. As for pessimism, I don't see any reason to assume it. I think the key is that he has written his record in Roman lettering, despite having used Old Solar. Unless there is a lot more traffic between the worlds it seems very unlikely that Tor and Tinidril will learn the Roman alphabet - they will presumably create their own. You can imagine their children's children puzzling over it in Perelandrian academic journals - cracking the strange, exotic and ancient code left by the hero of their earliest tales...
non lucem tenebrae, sed lux tenebras superavit
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