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Chapter 14 Study

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

Chapter 14 Study

Postby Kanakaberaka » 30 Apr 2006, 00:03

Synopsis: Ransom makes haste towards Meldilorn following Whin's directions. What follows in a detailed travelogue from the base of the handramit to the harandra (planet's true surface) at the top. Along the way Ransom is challenged not only by the Alpine distace to the top, but by his own nagging despair. Finaly as the sun sets he reaches a cave at the top, only to discover it occupied by a sorn!
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Being an action adventure fan I thought that Lewis could have dispensed with Ransom's inner dialogue during his ascent to Augray's Tower. I'm sure there's much to say about charater development. But I enjoyed Lewis' wonderful discription of Ransom's climb out of the handramit and the literaly heart pounding excitement of his discovery. One thing is for sure; C.S. Lewis may not have been savy about contemporary outer space theories, but he sure was aware of practical science problems. We see this as Ransom tackles the steep trail to the harandra with unexpected ease at first. And with antisipated langor as he reaches the top in pain simply to breath. The atmosphere of the handramit is nicely discribed as appearing misty when viewed from the towering trail above.

Of course it's Ransom's internal dialogue which raises the story above pulp fiction. In an adventure story the author would only have to give his impressions about the actions his hero was enduring. Lewis gives up a peek into the doubts and weaknesses of Ransom as he struggles upward. On a positive note, Ransom is in control on this foray into the Malacandrian wilderness, as opposed to his first escape into it the first time:
" It was the difference between a landsman in a sinking ship and a horseman on a bolting horse: either may be killed, but the horseman is an agent as well as a patient. "

What a difference having a goal and a purpose can make.

One technical detail I wonder about is that Ransom has the forethought to take along some ground weed for nourishment during his perilous trek. And yet there is no mention of him bringing along any water. Wouldn't he become thirsty before he became hungry? There is no mention of his thirst either. Maybe he simply had a water flask on one of those hrossa girdles all along?

Should it really be a surprise that Ransom meets a sorn when he arrives at the top of the trail? After all, the hrossa told him that the harandra is populated by them. I must admit though that there is some enjoyable shock value to this discovery.

so it goes...
Last edited by Kanakaberaka on 30 Apr 2006, 00:40, edited 1 time in total.
so it goes...
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Kanakaberaka
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Original Chapter 14 Comments

Postby Kanakaberaka » 30 Apr 2006, 00:39

Steve points out :
"Should Ransom have been surprised to meet a sorn at the top of the trail?"

Perhaps logically he shouldn't have, but emotionally he still remembers his fear of them (although quite lessened from his panic of the first day), so non-logically he thinks the Hrossa wouldn't send him to meet one. IMO



Monica had this to say about my dislike of Ransom's inner dialogue while climbing to Augray's Tower ("just like a woman: all talk") :
This might be one of those specific occasions where a plot technique is said to be definitively 'masculine' or 'feminine' in style. Ransom's inner dialogue seems to be a 'feminine' plot device -- the passive, internal awareness, rather than the active, external showing.

Hence, I really like it. :-)


To which Stanley Anderson replied "Mad, Evil Woman -- eclectric light orchestra" :
Not at all sure here (I'm just tossing this out on a sudden thought), do you suppose one might contrast the medieval mindset with the modern as a sort of difference between a feminine and masculine in like manner as you mention above -- ie that the medieval is a sort of feminine period and the modern a more masculine?

Just guesses,
--Stanley


Monica replied to Stanley "they call me mellow elo" :
That's a big question. I'd have to give that some thought. Have you? If you've just thrown it out there, I could throw something back, that I haven't really considered: namely that in some ways modern literature -- with its interior monologues and post-modern, consciousness-streaming angst -- seems MORE feminine than the straight heroic action of medieval literature.

But, that's a fairly lazy answer on my part. I'd have to give it more thought.


Which inspired Stanley to post "Voyage of the Dawn o' Van Troubadour" :
Hmmm...interesting. In fact, what you are saying above is almost exactly what I suggested a few years ago (was it that long?) on these forums in a discussion with, I think carol -- I had said that despite the lack of female characters in a good number of books, they for the most part demonstrated that the "feminine" side had won out, since the modern form of writing well demands that the reader see the "internal" state of the characters -- ie, one of the qualities looked for in "good" books is good characterization. And that this aspect, whether or not the characters are male or female, shows, in contrast to the purely action/adventure form, that the form of modern writing has become feminine in style. The gender of the characters hardly matters.

But in relation to the medieval vs modern feminine/masculine idea I mentioned in the previous post, since you've brought it up, I realize that I'm not sure now (of course I wasn't sure when I suggested it either:-). In that post I was referring more to the general medieval mode of thought rather than literature in particular. My initial thought was that whereas modern man puts Man in the center of the universe (in ironic contrast to the Copernican revolution in astronomy), the medieval mindset put Man on the fringes, in a more submissive -- and therefore traditionally seen as more feminine -- role. But I suppose one could also look at the modern Man-centered view as being more "internal" looking in some way, while the medieval view looks "outward" to the music of the spheres and the Medieval cosmology as more "important" than Man. Does that make one more masculine or feminine that the other? I'm not sure. Or perhaps it isn't really a good distinction to try to make? Still it feels like there might be something there to consider. Where's Lewis when you need to ask him a tough question anyway?:-)

Could it be that the Renaissance was more the Man-centered contrast to the medieval, and that the modern view is a sort of post-Renaissance-neo-medieval convoluted mixture (read: mess) of the two? Not sure.

--Stanley


Monica gave her "Taming of the View" :
: In that post I was referring more to the
: general medieval mode of thought rather than literature in
: particular. My initial thought was that whereas modern man puts
: Man in the center of the universe ... the medieval mindset put
: Man on the fringes, in a more submissive ... -- role.

It gets confusing, all these worldviews and changes of worldviews, doesn't it? In a way, one could argue that any worldview that PUTS man on the fringes in a submissive role is actually a male mindset (even though the submission of man is a feminine thing), because the mindset itself, something that makes something else submissive, is actually displaying masculine properties. :-)

(But that's just silly semantics.)

: Where's Lewis when you need to ask him a tough
: question anyway?:-)

In heaven, I expect, and enjoying it, I hope. I was talking to Chris about this last night. Just think, that all the years I've been enjoying Lewis' 'other countries' and his views on heaven and God, he's actually BEEN there.

: Could it be that the Renaissance was more the Man-centered contrast
: to the medieval, and that the modern view is a sort of
: post-Renaissance-neo-medieval convoluted mixture (read: mess) of
: the two? Not sure.

I'll go along with that. The modern view is some kind of trans-gendered, sexual-identity-confused, cross-dresser.


Finally, Stanley had this to say about being "outside looking in" :
Isn't it interesting that when Ransom is contemplating what the relationship of the sorns, Oyarsa, hrossa etc are on the planet and imagines all sorts of horrid tyrranies and such, he thinks "It would be a strange, but not an inconceivable world; heroism and poetry at the bottom, cold scientific intellect above it, and overtopping all some dark superstition which scientific intellect, helpless against the revenge of the emotional depths it had ignored, had neither will nor power to remove. A mumbo-jumbo...but Ransom pulled himself up. He knew too much now to talk that way. He and all his class would have called the eldilla a superstition if they had merely desribed them to them". The interesting part is that this is almost a perfect description of what in fact the situation is on Earth in That Hideous Strength in the NICE. Talk about projection! Ransom doesn't even realize that the "strange, but not inconceivable world" is his own world.

In this chapter, we also see the modern scientific man rising back up a bit in Ransom's mind -- the old man still struggles within him to regain power.

[from k]:
>Should it realy be a surprise that Ransom meets a sorn when he
>arrives at the top of the trail? After all, the hrossa told him that
>the harandra is populated by them. I must admit though that there is
>some enjoyable shock value to this discovery.

For me this last paragraph in the chapter is, in addition to its pure delightfulness of Ransom reaching warmth and safety, another instance of the duality of the modern "scientific" view and the Medieval. Notice again the way Lewis describes the scene -- he doesn't say there is a sorn with its shadow, but that "there were two things in it" [ie, the chamber]. "One of them, dancing on the wall and roof, was the huge, angular shadow of a sorn; the other crouched beneath it, was the sorn himself." The first 'thing' is the horrid monster image that Ransom's modernity has built up in his mind till it reaches even to the roof, and the other (evoking, of course the "reality" of Plato's shadows in a cave) is the reality of the sorn itself, a reality itself of the "shadows" of the Cyclopean myth on Earth

I'll just carry over into the beginning of the next chapter here to connect with that last paragraph. Suddenly the narration jumps to the sorn's point of view -- it says "Come in, Small One, [boomed the sorn], Come in and let me look at you". This section and large parts of this chapter echo the Medieval view of man being "small and insignificant" against the creatures of the greater worlds and spheres of medeival cosmology. It is Man who is studied rather than the the inverted "modern scientific" view of Man that Ransom is used to where Man is at the top and imposes himself on, and studies, as its god-like observer, the world around him. Here on Malacandra he is small and is the one being observed. It is Man in the form of Ransom that must be "invited in" to partake of the warmth and communion of "the other".

--Stanley
so it goes...
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