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Chapter 16 Study

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

Chapter 16 Study

Postby Kanakaberaka » 30 Apr 2006, 01:05

Synopsis: Ransom awakens with a positive attitude in Augray's cave. After breakfast and a brief philosophical talk, they walk out over the harandra with Ranson on Augray's shoulder. They survey the true surface of Malacandra. Before the day is anywhere near over, Augray stops for a visit in the home cavern of a wise old sorn. Ransom finds himself grilled by this scholarly sorn and his pupils about Earth.
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The second paragraph of this chapter illustrates the pragmatic nature of the seroni. Augray points out that the hrossa should not have sent Ransom by the short-cut between the handramits because creatures such as him can not survive without special precautions. Augray then goes on to mock the hrossa habit of writing poems about heroism rather than avoiding danger. Ransom (No doubt in his Medieval frame of mind, Stanley) defends his hrossa friends saying :
"I like the hrossa," said Ransom a little stiffly. "And I think the way they talk about death is the right way."
Augray does not dissagree with this view of death. Only with the idea of avoiding it when possible. Are the hrossa more in tune with the Midieval view of things than the seroni?
Augray shows Ransom a high-tech device to avoid death out on the almost airless harandra. A simple looking flask (cylinder?) with an air mask attatched by a hose. Augray informs Ransom that the seroni invented (thought up) the device and the pfifltriggi built it. Even more interesting than this symbiotic relationship between the intellectuals and the artisans of Malacandra is the motivation of the pfifltriggi. They build such devices for the seroni only if it is a challenge to them to do so. And apparently at no charge since there is no mention of an exchange of funds or barter. Another Utopian touch by C.S. Lewis.

As they begin their trek across the harandra, Ransom straps on the oxygen flask and sits atop Augray's shoulder. This image reminds me of that of Saint Christopher carrying the Christ Child. Christopher was the patron saint of travelers who according to a Medieval legend, once carried a young child across a river only to be nearly crushed by the weight of the toddler. Apon reaching the other side of the river the child revealed himself to be The Christ. Years back the Catholic Church removed Christopher from it's official list of Saints. Talk about discarded images!

As they make their way across the harandra, Augray tells Ransom that the huge rose tinted cauliflower objects were in fact the petrified remains of Malacandra's original forests. They are littered with the remains of the inhabitants from thousands of years ago. This adds an element of apocalyptic science fiction to the story. A deserted town from an ancient age. It's inhabitants were aparently bird like beings who later evolved (or is it devolved?) into the seroni. Interesting that Lewis has Augray explaining the extinction by saying :

"But a world is not made to last for ever, much less a race; that is not Maleldil's way."

They encounter three seroni along the way. And while Ransom takes note of their movements, he makes no mention of any conversation between them and Augray. And yet Ransom takes note of a change in his attitude towards the seroni :
"He had thought them spectral when they were only august, and his first human reaction to their lengthened severity of line and profound stillness of expression now appeared to him not so much cowardly as vulgar. So might Parmenides or Confucius look to the eyes of a Cockney schoolboy!"

Both the Greek philosopher Parmenides and the Chinese philosopher Confucius were known for living exemplary lives. And both lived coincidentaly during the 6th Century B.C.

Ransom does have a long and usefull conversation with an old sorn scholar and his pupils along the way. It is a basicly a one way talk, with Ransom providing them with all the matter of fact answers to all their inquiries about the nature of Thulcandra. However, they are astonished apon hearing the history and politics of Ransom's home planet. They conclude :
"It is because they have no Oyarsa," said one of the pupils. "It is because every one of them wants to be a little Oyarsa himself," said Augray. "They cannot help it," said the old sorn. "There must be rule, yet how can creatures rule themselves? "
Now I know that Lewis was a life-long democrat (with a small "d"), but this passage has me wondering what ideal of governance he had in mind. Not a theocracy, I am sure. But how can humanity with all it's diverse faiths find such guidance? Maybe that's the point Lewis is trying to make.

After the seroni are done giving Ransom the third degree about humanity's shortfalls, he puts it out of his mind by dreaming of what the Malacandrian forests of old must have been like.

so it goes...
so it goes...
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Kanakaberaka
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Original Chapter 16 Comments

Postby Kanakaberaka » 30 Apr 2006, 01:35

Here's a picture of Saint Christopher carrying the Christ child :
Image
I wonder if C.S. Lewis was imspired by this image when he thought of Ransom sitting on Augray's shoulder. Could this be a hint that Ransom is a sort of Christ figure?

Monica had some questions :
///the motivation of the pfifltriggi. They build such devices for the seroni only if it is a challenge to them to do so.....Augray then goes on to mock the hrossa habit of writing poems about heroism rather than avoiding danger///

If one species can find error in another, is this evidence of 'fallenness' or 'imperfection' on Malacandra? Or is it simply differences in outlook?


I replied with "Sibling Rivalry"
I look at this minor squabling among hnau as a healthy outlet for their differences. Augray was just being honest about the hrossa's short commings rather than hurtfull. And the same can be said for the hrossa's critisism of the seroni's lack of swimming skills. A good honest observation between friends is a positive thing. It is the opposite of a left handed complement addressed to an enemy. The fact that the three Malacandrian races can talk about each other in a critcal way without felling insulted is proof of their being unfallen.
so it goes...
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Kanakaberaka
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