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Chapter 15 Study

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

Chapter 15 Study

Postby Kanakaberaka » 30 Apr 2006, 00:45

Synopsis: At last Ransom confronts a sorn. And much to Ransom's relief, Augray turns out to be a most civilized being. They begin with small talk about who they are. Then break for some food. Then the conversation turns profound as Augray explains what Oyarsa and eldils are. Finaly they have a look at Thulcandra from the top of Augray's tower before getting some sleep.
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Now that Ransom has met with a sorn it turns out that Augray is not the monster Ransom had thought he would be. Sure, his size and apperance are disquieting to a Thulcandran. But he is such a civilized and courteous host that Ransom is at ease. The first thing that Augray does is specualate about where Ransom has come from. He goes through some Sherlock Holmes type deductions based apon Ransom's appearance and by a process of elimination concludes that Ranson is from Thulcandra. It's a good thing that the philologist hero is fluent in a Malacandrian language at this point in the story. Otherwise we would miss out on the sorn's love of knowlege.

Next they break for food and Ransom is introduced to the Malacandrian equivalent of cheese. It turns out that the young seroni work as shepherds, milking those fuzzy giraffe-like creatures mentioned earlier. Ransom makes a connection between the cyclops of Homer's tale and a sorn. Another example of a classical reference made by Lewis. The author appears to be taking us on an extra-terrestrial tour only to point backwards with references to our own ancient myths. It is the sort of association I would expect from a man such as Ransom though.

After their dinner break the conversation turned to the subject of Oyarsa and eldils. It has Ransom even more confused about the nature of reality itself, not just about the social system of Malacandra. Augray mentions the fact that to the eldila, light is a material thing like water is to us. And that they can pass trough what we consider solid. That Oyarsa does not so much live on Malacandra as he is attatched to it in some way as he goes through the heavens. Ransom makes mention of two supernatural beings when Augray is surprised about eldila not visiting Thulcandra:
" It had dawned on him that the recurrent human tradition of bright, elusive people sometimes appearing on the Earth -albs, devas and the like -might after all have another explanation than the anthropologists had yet given. "

I looked up the definitions of albs. At first I found out that it refers to a long white linen robe worn with tapered sleeves worn by a priest at Mass. Obviously CSL had something else in mind. So I checked out the derivation of the word and sure enough an "albho" is a white ghostly apparition. That fact sort of makes attending Catholic Mass all the more interesting for me. The first definition of Deva I found was the name a city in the Western Transylvanian Alps. Spooky, maybe? But not, I'm sure what Lewis was had in mind. Then further in my Google search I came apon another reference. In sanskrit "deva" means "shining one". They are known to Hindus and Buddhists. It all sounds a bit like "New Age" pop culture to me. Personaly I like it, but some devout Christians might be reluctant about considerting such things, even in fiction.

Before they take rest, Augray treats Ransom to a view of his home planet from the top of his tower. After ascending a giant staircase inside what appears to be a hollowed out mountain, Ransom peers through a round window. The window turns out to be the Malacandrian equivalent of a telescope. Through it Ransom can see his home planet and even make out Northern Europe, albeit upside down from his point of view. This passage reminds me of a scene from David Lindsay's book "A Voyage to Arcturus" which Lewis expressed an enthusiasm for. In that book the protagonist, Maskull struggles to climb the steps of an odd tower from which he will leave Earth. On the way up he looks through some circular windows and sees magnified views of the double star system of Arcturus. The magnification becomes more powerful as Maskull climbs higher.

One odd thing in this chapter is that Ransom refers to Augray as "it" rather than "he". I would have thought that by now Ransom would have come to view all Hnau as people rather than monstrosities.

so it goes...
so it goes...
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Kanakaberaka
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Original Chapter 15 Comments

Postby Kanakaberaka » 30 Apr 2006, 00:59

The Big Sleep J had some comparisons to make :
>>> Next they break for food and Ransom is introduced to the
>>> Malacandrian equivalent of cheese. It turns out that the young
>>> seroni work as shepherds, milking those fuzzy giraffe-like
>>> creatures mentioned earlier. Ransom makes a connection between
>>> the cyclops of Homer's tale and a sorn. Another example of a
>>> classical reference made by Lewis.

I can remember in Perelandra, at one point, Ransom realizes that a lot of human mythology is in one way or another represented on these other planets. Didn't Lewis believe that all human myths point, in one way or another, to the Christianity? Or something like that? Couldn't this literary extension of that theory? Sorry, I can't rember.

>>> One odd thing in this chapter is that Ransom refers to Augray
>>> as "it" rather than "he". I would have thought that by now
>>> Ransom would have come to view all Hnau as people rather than
>>> monstrosities.

Maybe some old seeds of Ransom's fear still cling to his image of a sorn. Even though he does not fear Augray and accept the Malacandrian as Hnau, he still does not accept it entirely so far. Off course, I could be entirely wrong about both my comments.


Stanley Anderson posted "gender, gender, who has the gender" :
[from K]:
>One odd thing in this chapter is that Ransom refers to Augray as "it"
>rather than "he". I would have thought that by now Ransom would have
>come to view all Hnau as people rather than monstrosities.

I wonder if that is your own bias showing though. Do we know that Augray is a "he" or that sorns have any sexual distinctions at all? (I made a passing reference to this idea jokingly in an earlier thread when I wrote the parody of the group of sorns first looking at Ransom from across the water when the ship had landed, and it turned out that they were a bunch of females. Lewis seems to go out of his way to refer to Augray as "it" or as "the sorn", even though the presumably sexless eldilla are referred to in the generic masculine. I suspect Lewis intended the sexuality or gender of the sorns to be ambiguous to the reader.

I wanted to comment that Augray's conversation with Ransom in the cave is very reminiscent of the Socratic method that Boethius, in the Consolation of Philosopy, has "Philosophy" use in her questioning (note that Philosophy is "she" here -- Perhaps Lewis did not want to have Augray be "he" specifically to leave open the parallel with the "she" of Philosophy in The Consolation?). I know that The Consolation of Philosophy was a book Lewis considered one of the most influential on his own thinking and one he says, in The Discarded Image, that "to acquire a taste for it is almost to become naturalized in the Middle Ages". This is of course another example of the Medieval view in OSP that Ransom is being led to. And of course the whole section of the description of light and how the eldilla function and falseness of the image of dark and empty space is straight out of TDI. Perhaps one of the strongest passages in support of the idea of Ransom's "progression" into Medieval thought that I have been presenting all along in this study is this:
-------------------
"It had dawned on [Ransom] that the recurrent human tradition of bright, elusive people sometimes appearing on Earth -- albs, devas and the like -- might after all have another explanation than the anthropologists had yet given. True, it would turn the universe rather oddly inside out; but his experiences in the space-ship had prepared him for some such operation."
--------------------

By the way, I love the image of an eldil plunging into the rays of the sun to refresh himself from the water-like "thickness" of the true light that the eldilla "see" and experience that seems but darkness and emptiness to us.

I also note with curiosity that Thulcandra is referred to by the sorn as "she". "Nature" on earth is referred to in the feminine (eg, "mother nature", etc), and yet we think of "Satan" as "he". This suggests that perhaps Thulcandra as the silent Oyarsa is somehow distinct from Satan as we think of him -- even in THS where the dark eldils or macrobes have a "he" in the form of Alcasan's head as their representative to humans. I'm not sure what to make of all this, only pointing ou the thougths that occur to me.

--Stanley


And then Stanley "Just noticed, by the way..." :
...that at the end of chapter 17, the pfifltrigg notes that "the sorns make least account of females and we make most." So this indicates that sorns do probably have male and female gender. It still doesn't specifically say that Augray was a male, though it is probably not presumptuous to infer it. I think Lewis' obvious attempt to avoid referring to Augray as "he" still possibly reflects his desire to allow a connection with Boethius' "Philosophy" and her style of questioning.

--Stanley


"Jumping ahead to ch 16 for a moment", Staley noted :
I just noticed something in chapter 16 and I wanted to make note of it before I forgot, so if I can cheat just a bit on this thread...

In the next chapter, Ransom is being questioned by a bunch of sorns, apparently students of a sort of Augray's, and it talks about how they would question him about a topic until he reached the limit of his knowledge on that topic and then they would immediately drop it and go onto another subject. They are unfallen creatures and have no evil intent, but I suddenly felt a sort of creepy association with a similar passage in Perelandra where the Un-Man is talking with the Green Lady and is telling her various stories and topics. There he is described as suddenly dropping a line of talk when the Green Lady did not understand, and simply going on immediately to another story or topic. Of course the difference is that the sorns are simply trying to get information, whereas the Un-man is trying to gradually build up a certain tone in the Green Lady's thought process for his evil purposes. But the similarity in styles is striking to me. I wonder if Lewis had any purpose or parallel thought in describing each encounter that way?

We now return control back to your regularly scheduled chapter,
--Stanley


I just had to tell Stanley "Know Your Hnau" :
No, no, no Stanley. Pfifltriggi Jump Ahead. Seroni take long strides forward.

so it goes...
so it goes...
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