This forum was closed on October 1st, 2010. However, the archives are open to the public and filled with vast amounts of good reading and information for you to enjoy. If you wish to meet some Wardrobians, please visit the Into the Wardrobe Facebook group.

Chapter 10 Study

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

Chapter 10 Study

Postby Kanakaberaka » 03 Apr 2006, 16:10

Synopsis: The Hross invites Ransom into his boat and they go on a long journey away from danger, or so Ransom hopes. Along the way Ransom learns some more Malacandrian vocabulary. Finaly as the sun sets, Ransom and his host arrive at his village to be greeted by dozens of Hrossa.
-----------------------------------------------------------
The way Lewis discribes how the hross enters his boat reminds me of the way animated cartoon caracters moved back then (and to this day, for that matter):
"He did this head-first like an animal, his sinuous body allowing him to rest his hands on the bottom of the boat while his feet were still planted on the land. He completed the operation by flinging rump, tail and hind legs all together about five feet into the air and then whisking them neatly on board with an agility which would have been quite impossible to an animal of his bulk on Earth."
It's more that just an example of low gravity. It's almost comic and it has me wondering if Lewis was indeed inspired by those old black and white cartoons from the 20's and 30's.
Next comes the boat. In the previous chapter Ransom expressed surprise that it looked like an ordinary boat from Earth. In this chapter he gives a few more details:
"The boat was without seats. It had a very high prow, an enormous expanse of free-board, and what seemed to Ransom an impossibly shallow draught. Indeed, very little of it even rested on the water; he was reminded of a modern European speed-boat."
It reminds me of one of those Venitian gondolas, without the facy seating. Another detail is the "rope" which moors the boat having the consistency of soft toffe. Instead of being untied, the hross pulls it apart. It's a good example of a technology different from ours.

What follows next is a vocabulary and geography (or should I say Malacandraphy?) lesson told along with Ransom's travelog. Ransom surprises the hross by taking off his hat and jacket. So we can be just as odd appearing to extraterristrials as they are to us. I wonder if the hross thought Ransom was molting as he undressed? It becomes obvious to Ransom that they are navigating a river at the bottom of an incredibly long valley called a handramit. The highlands above the valley walls are called harandra. Later Ransom learns that the harandra is in fact the original surface of the planet. The hross tells Ransom that the seroni live there and Ransom assumes they must be some sort of myth. Or then again, he thinks, could seroni be the plural of sorn? This has Ransom worried about whether the hrossa are merely domesticated animals of the sorn. This adds tension to the story and illustrates our own fallen paranoia.

At one point they must leave the river to avoid some rapids. So the hross lifts his boat over his head with hardly any strain. Lewis compares him to a Grecian caryatid. Caryatids are support columns carved to look like like draped female figures. I wonder if there is any special significance to this observation or if Lewis was simply drawing on his knowlege of classic mythology? I remember that in Heinlein's "Stranger in a Strange Land" the messianic protagonist is compared to a caryatid because just like the ancient female building supports he does not appear able to support his own heavy "temple". So a caryatid is a beautiful but odd adornment for a building.

Finaly at the end of the day Ransom and the hross arrive at his home village. Ransom is happy to be greeted by so many of these friendly creatures, especialy the young "pups". It is odd how Ransom wishes for the presence of "real" humans, even Ransom and Devine over the attentions of the adult hross. And yet the little young hross reassure him and raise his spirits. Could it be because they are more like what he expects an animal to be like or is there something more going on? ("Unless you become like little children...")

so it goes...
so it goes...
User avatar
Kanakaberaka
Wardrobian
 
Posts: 1028
Joined: Jul 1999
Location: Just outside of Rego Park, NYC

Original Chapter 10 Comments

Postby Kanakaberaka » 09 Apr 2006, 03:21

The Big Sleep J had "Just a few thoughts..." about technical details in this chapter:
Another detail is the "rope" which moors the boat having
>> the consistency of soft toffe. Instead of being untied, the hross
>> pulls it apart. It's a good example of a technology different
>> from ours.

Hmmmm. Their technology is off course on the whole more natural and more "earthy" than ours. However I think that this is a bit too odd. Why couldn't the hross just not make a rope. Off course there might not be the right plants for a rope.

>> The hross tells Ransom that the seroni live there and Ransom
>> assumes they must be some sort of myth. Or then again, he thinks,
>> could seroni be the plural of sorn? This has Ransom worried about
>> whether the hrossa are merely domesticated animals of the sorn.
>> This adds tension to the story and illustrates our own fallen
>> paranoia.

Yes, it is in-character for most humans. This is off course still some of the HG Wells' view on alien life that illustrates. I think lesser sci-fi author wannabes would have taken the war-route by making the Hross the slaves of the seroni and have them battle it out while Devine and Weston join in on the sides of the badguys. Did they write stories like that back in the 30s?

>> I wonder if there is any special significance to this observation
>> or if Lewis was simply drawing on his knowlege of classic
>> mythology?

I don't think so particularly. I think it's just the kind of observation a character like Ransom would make. If the person is more of a normal person (like a detective or something :-) ) he might not have thought likened the Hross to a caryatid but to something more...urban or simple, like a construction worker. I mean, not everyone knows what a caryatid is. That included me until you explained it to me.


I replied with "Hrossa Rope-A-Dope" :
Why couldn't the hross just not make a rope. - TBSJ
---------------------------------------------------
Lewis seems to be using little details like this to remind us that Ransom is not back on his home turf. It adds a bit of local color to the story without mattering much.
-------------------------------------
I think lesser sci-fi author wannabes would have taken the war-route by making the Hross the slaves of the seroni and have them battle it out while Devine and Weston join in on the sides of the badguys. Did they write stories like that back in the 30s? - TBSJ
-----------------------------------------------------
Check out the classic "Flash Gordon". I suppose Flash would unite the Hrossa and Seroni in an alliance to rescue Dale from the evil duo. Meanwhile Dr. Zarkov would be working on a new weapon with the Pfifltriggi.


Steve had some questions about "plural mysteries" :
Ransom again displays nervousness (as might anyone kidnapped onto a new planet) hesitating to go in the boat with the Hross.

I thought his seasickness in the boat -- then feeling embarrassed about this as unfitting for humanity's representative, was interesting.

I have two questions about the language side here. What does Lewis mean by imagining the word "hross" having two "s"'s? I suppose it makes a difference in pronouncing the plural, that we would say "hrow sa" rather than "hraw za" (at least thats what I think of it). Or is he intending the "s" sound to be longer than it would be otherwise, as when Gollum says "preciousss"

Second question -- why is the plural of "sorn", "seroni"?

Also, pfifltrigg has a different plural too. (Oops, I'm skipping ahead here).

hross - hrossa (add "a" at the end)
eldil -- eldila (works like hross).
sorn - seroni (add additional vowel to the root, add -i at the end)
pfifltrigg - pfifltriggi (has the -i suffix like sorn, but no additional vowels).

Perhaps the hross speech has acquired the singular and plural forms that sorns and pfifltriggs call themselves, which is why these two nouns are exceptions to the general rule of -a marking plural.

So in sorn speech, would the plural of eldil be eledili? And in pfifltrigg, eldili?

Or else you have three noun classes who form their plurals differently, hross and eldil in class I (-a plural)
sorn in class II (insert vowel plus -i plural)
pfifltrigg in class III (-i plural).


Monica attempted to answer some of Steve's questions :
Chapter 9 is one of my favourite chapters in the book, but 10 is up there as well. (I wish I'd been around to post comments about chapter 9.) This section is very 'Gulliver's Travels'. It's similar to the scene where Gulliver meets the talking horses, right down to the language difficulties and explanations by the author. (Forget Hross. Try saying Houyhnhnms.) Lewis also has to overcome the barriers of dealing with an animal language -- rather than merely a different human language -- and the differences that animal physiognomies make. I expect Tolkien was faced with the same barriers in explaining Treebeard's language.

///I have two questions about the language side here. What does Lewis mean by imagining the word "hross" having two "s"'s? I suppose it makes a difference in pronouncing the plural, that we would say "hrow sa" rather than "hraw za" (at least thats what I think of it). Or is he intending the "s" sound to be longer than it would be otherwise, as when Gollum says "preciousss" ///

Sure, why not? Why not spell it like 'cross' or 'boss' or 'toss'?

///Second question -- why is the plural of "sorn", "seroni"? ///

Why is the plural of radius, radii? Maybe sorn was originally a Latin word. :-) Wasn't Latin once the universal language of knowledge?

///Perhaps the hross speech has acquired the singular and plural forms that sorns and pfifltriggs call themselves, which is why these two nouns are exceptions to the general rule of -a marking plural. ///

Yes, that's it, I think. Makes perfect sense. Good point. Maybe ALL the plurals in pfifltrigg end in 'i'. So, for example, we'd be 'humani.'

///Or else you have three noun classes who form their plurals differently, hross and eldil in class I (-a plural)
sorn in class II (insert vowel plus -i plural)
pfifltrigg in class III (-i plural).///

Also possible, maybe less probable. I like the first explanation better. It has a generosity to it. But this works as well. English has classes of plurals: think of book-books, mouse-mice. Other languages do the same thing to an even greater extent, i.e. Dutch.

And to bring it back to Gullivers Travels. Gulliver called the humans YAHOOS -- and isn't YAHOO a word-search-engine?


Steve had this to say :
Yes, I agree with you that the idea of sorn/seroni and pfifltrigg/pfifltriggi as "irregular" plurals acquired from their languages makes more sense than my noun class theory. But that may well be because English doesn't have any noun classes so they seem strange and farfetched to us.

About the houynihims -- isn't it interesting that the word "hross" is almost an anagram of "horse",


To which Monica replied :
Interesting, yes, and I always felt a little misleading since the hrossa are nothing like horses.

Perhaps a different kind of author than Lewis might have called them 'selli' or something that sounded more like the word 'seals.'


Stanley Anderson had these speculations on "plur language" :
[from steve]:
>why is the plural of "sorn", "seroni"?

I suspect something akin to noun classes is more likely -- for the Hrossa's language was the Old Solar and as such was the "primary" language. I said "more likely" above, for such a primary language would be more like a living thing than a set of hard and fast rules. Read the first couple pages of the chapter "The Descent of the Gods" in THS where Viritrilbia (Mercury) enters St. Annes and affects the company below and Ransom and Merlin in the rooms above. The whole section is delightful, but the key portion is where Lewis writes this:
------------
[Ransom] found himself sitting within the very heart of language, in the white-hot furnace of essential speech. All fact was broken, splashed into cataracts, caught, turned inside out, kneaded, slain, and reborn as meaning
------------

As a side note, if one can guess about pluralization "rules", the plural of sorn "seroni" seems to have something in common with the plural for Oyarsa, "Oyeresu", so I doubt it (the pluralization, at least) has much to do with what the Sorns call themselves.

>What does Lewis mean by imagining the word "hross" having two "s"'s?

I suspect it is meant to emphasize the short "o" sound since we associate that with other words containing a double 's' like "loss" and "floss". If he had only used one "s" (ie "hros"), I suppose we might be tempted to pronounce the "o" as more of a long "o". I'm thinking of the Hispanic tinted pronunciation of Los Angeles (not that I pronounce it that way, but with an Hispanic accent, I have heard it that way) or even the Star Wars pronunciation of "Mos Isley", I suppose.

Just guesses of course,
--Stanley


And then Stanley had "another example" to give :
[from me]:
>the plural of sorn "seroni" seems to have something in common with
>the plural for Oyarsa, "Oyeresu", so I doubt it (the pluralization,
>at least) has much to do with what the Sorns call themselves.

Just to add another example that we will see in a couple more chapters on, the plural of hnakra is hneraki which seems to follow a similar pattern with seroni and oyeresu. I would just also note out of interest that at least the hrossa also apparently use the masculine-as-generic-for-the-race just as "Man" can mean the human race in general as well as the male specifically. I say this because I notice (again a couple chapters later) that the hross/hrossa refers to the race, but also apparently to the males specifically, since the females are referred to in the plural as "hressni" (as Hyoi uses to refer to two hressni).

--Stanley


Stanley next had this quick note :
I'm on vacation this week. I will be able to pop in from time to time, and post some, but perhaps not as extensibley as normal. I'll just quickly note here that I thoroughly enjoyed (if that is the right word:-) the seasickness scene. I believe I remember that Lewis was a good sailor in the sense that he didn't get seasick, so I find it interesting that he was so wonderfully able to capture perfectly the exact feeling of that initial confidence that turns into a gradual realization that all is not well, the damp brow and the sudden escalation of nausea with little time to act on it. Not that I enjoy reading about people being sick, but Lewis does it so masterfully here, I just had to comment on it.

Perhaps more later, but I need to go now.

--Stanley


But before Stanley could get away for vacation, I posted this observation about "Getting up to Speed" :
I was not aware of Lewis' seamanship abilities, Stanley. The fact that his protagonist gets ill from his voyage with the hross just goes to show how he empathised with landlubbers. Or maybe Lewis remembered his first sailing experience, before he got his sealegs.

And let's not forget the thing that set off Ransom's nausea - The breakneck speed of the boat :
"They were a couple of miles from land when it suddenly ceased paddling and sat tense with its paddle poised in the air; at the same moment the boat quivered and shot forward as if from a catapult. They had apparently availed themselves of some current. In a few seconds they were racing forward at some fifteen miles an hour and rising and falling on the strange, sharp, perpendicular waves of Malacandra with a jerky motion quite unlike that of the choppiest sea that Ransom had ever met on Earth."

Hmmm... an incredible 15 MPH ! But before we berate Lewis for having his protagonist sick at a slow speed (waves or not) I seem to recall that back before the steam locomotive was in use scientists worried that people would not survive speeds over 15 miles per hour. Is Lewis digging up some more obsolete theories to add color to his tale? We know that Weston's spacecraft exceeded thousands of miles per hour.


Whcih made Stanley put aside his luggage to answer my assertions about Ransom's rough voyage :
I don't know about you, but if I were the protagonist, I would probalby be sick as a dog on that boat -- especially with the "rising and falling on the strange, sharp, perpendicular waves of Malacandra with a jerky motion quite unlike that of the choppiest sea that Ransom had ever met on Earth". The times I've been seasick have not been especially related to the speed of the boat, but of rather of its non-linear motion on the surface of the water. As a side note, I'm not a sailor (can you guess?:-), but wouldn't a "natural" current of 15 mph be pretty strong, especially on a "lake" or whatever they were on in Malacandra?

Anyway, I'd better go find a bathroom. I'm feeling a bit queazy just typing this out:-)

--Stanley


I had to agree with Stanley's observation, posting "Motion of the Ocean... or in this case the river" :
You are probably right about the choppy motion rather than the speed of the boat being the cause of Ransom's seasickness. Ransom goes on to mention the uncomfortable experience of riding a trotting horse in ther army. No doubt it is due to the low gravity waves on the water. I just wish that Lewis had said something like "In spite of their 15 MPH speed, the waves made their voyage distressfull".


Once again Stanley put down his suitcases to correct me with "catapulting motion" :
[from K]:
>Or in this case the river.

I think not. The setting as described in the whole chapter (and some of those before) argues against it. And explicitly we read this: "...Ransom saw that they were emerging on to a much larger sheet of water -- a great lake, almost a sea."

>I just wish that Lewis had said something like "In spite of their 15
>MPH speed, the waves made their voyage distressfull".

I have to disagree. The context in which Lewis mentions the 15 mph speed is that they are on a lake that a couple miles out from land suddenly "acquires" a current -- "...the boat quivered and shot forward as if from a catapult...In a few seconds they were racing forward at some fifteen miles an hour and rising and falling...". This is surely an odd occurance by earthly standards, and the 15 mph speed is not, as far as I can see, an "in spite of" sort of thing, but one of the very oddities of the whole experience.

--Stanley


Gywneth had this to add regarding "catapulting motion" :
15 mph for a little rowboat in a river really is unusual, even on earth. My dad's motorboat just about "maxes out" at a whopping 35-40 mph, so at 15 mph, the Hrossa is getting some speed that's pretty good even by motor boat standards.


Apon his return from vacation, Stanley posted this comparison called "In the village of the Ewoks?" :
I realize this is a bit overdue for this chapter, but as I mentioned in another thread that I was on vacation last week, I didn't have as much time to digest and respond to this chapter. There are several things I could probably add here, but I'll just say for now that the last scene in this chapter, for me, (and aside from its simply intrinsic hypnotic beauty) is another instance of the internal struggle between Ransom's transformation from the modern "scientific" (and "romantic" as I've quoted Lewis describing) man and the "classical" medieval man.

Though (as Lewis describes) "the motion of the boat, still working in his fantasy and making the earth seem to sway beneath him", is a very real effect -- one I (and I'm sure anyone who has been on a boat for any length of time) have experienced often -- I think it contributes to this struggle I refer to above. As Lewis writes, "this, with weariness and twilight, made the rest of the journey dream like". The firelight, the leaves overhead and the stars beyond them, along with the hrossa surrounding him, contribute, I think very much to a disorienting (for the modern scientific man) medieval view with its layers and order and stellatum (the sphere of the stars as a "definite" place in the orderly structure of the medieval model). This temporary ressurgence of the scientific man wants other men, even Weston and Devine. But the hross cubs gently lead him back into the glow of the "new" model he is beginning to accept.

--Stanley
so it goes...
User avatar
Kanakaberaka
Wardrobian
 
Posts: 1028
Joined: Jul 1999
Location: Just outside of Rego Park, NYC


Return to Out of the Silent Planet

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered members and 1 guest

cron