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Chapter 19 Study

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

Chapter 19 Study

Postby Kanakaberaka » 03 May 2006, 16:18

Synopsis: As the procession approaches Oyarsa, Ransom sees that they are hrossa carrying three of their dead. As well as leading two odd captives who turn out to be Weston and Devine. Oyarsa questions the two Thulcandrans. But Weston can not belive that Oyarsa's voice is not some sort of trick. And so he proceeds to make a fool of himself attempting to scare them using his limited knowlege of the Malacandrian language. Finally at Oyarsa's orders Weston is taken away for "treatment" while the three dead hrossa are given their last honors.
Ransom's observation of the appearance of Weston and Devine in this chapter is quite interesting. When he first ran from them he had regrets that he had ever left their company on such an alien world. Now they appear to Ransom as overly thick, misshapen monstrosities compared to the hrossa and seroni. Ransom has aquired a new sensibility for physical apperance. He now sees his fellow Thulcandrans through Malacandrian eyes. This is a tried and true science-fiction technique of presenting the mundane as something extraordinary.
Next, Weston attempts to brow beat the natives into letting them go. Unfortunatly his knowlege of the Malcandrian language is no where near as good as Ransom's. To illustrate this Lewis gives us the English equivalent for Weston's speech. It makes Weston sound quite stupid in front of the nau we know to be quite intellegent. Since Weston can not see his interrorgator,Oyarsa, he concludes that the shaman of the tribe must be using ventriloquism. It's the sort of materialistic conclusion one would expect from Weston. But instead of intimidating the crowd and the barely visible Oyarsa, all Weston manages to do is make them laugh. Weston mistakes their meaning, so Oyarsa attempts to explain that they are merely ammused by what he is doing. All the while, Devine withdraws from the proceedings for a smoke. Even Ranson can not convince Weston about what is really going on. And so Oyarsa has enough of Weston's buffoonery declaring :
"Something is wrong in your head, hnau from Thulcandra. There is too much blood in it."
This sounds like Medieval medicine with it's belief in the balance of the "four humors" - blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile. Lucky for Weston that Oyarsa only prescibes dunking his head in cold water rather than phlebotomy, that is blood-letting. I wonder if they would have used an infant hnakra on Weston rather than leeches?
Meanwhile, as Weston is being lead off screaming to have his head cooled off, The three hrossa killed by him and Devine are given a memorial service. Ransom begins to understand the meaning of the hrossa hymn as they sing in honor of Hyoi and the other two hrossa killed while capturing the two bent Thulcandrans. At last a pfifltrigg touches the corpses of the three fallen hunters with a device which causes them to disintegrate in a flash of light so powerful that all must draw back! I appears to be a conversion of matter into energy. And yet all Devine can manage to say about it is -
"God! That would be a trick worth knowing on earth," said Devine to Ransom. "Solves the murderer's problem about the disposal of the body, eh?"

This flippant remark is a perfect illustration of Devine's self-centered personality. Ransom on the other hand mourns the loss of his friend Hyoi.

so it goes...
so it goes...
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Original Chapter 19 Comments

Postby Kanakaberaka » 15 May 2006, 13:26

Steve began the comments with a question about Weston's treatment :
What strikes me as odd about this chapter is the incident where Oyarsa says Weston's head has too much blood in it. It seems like a very silly thing for Oyarsa to say.

Or is Oyarsa trying to satirize how Weston is treating him?

I never quite thought of this before, but this seems a lot like the dunking of Uncle Andrew by the Narnian beasts in Magicians Nephew.

I answered Steve with "Humor of Humors " :
I did a little more research on the Four Humors and found out that blood is associated with a sanguine personality. It refers to people with passionate dispositions. Those who are amorous, happy, generous. Qualities I would not have associated with Prof. Weston from the previous chapters of the book. Apparently the act that Weston put on in Oyarsa's court was interpreted as comedy by the assembled hnau. They must have found Weston's empty threats and cheap bribe quite entertaining. So that was why Oyarsa exclaims - "We have had mirth enough," - and prescibes the cold water treatment. Since blood is considered a hot and dry humor (don't ask me about the dry part) it seems natural that submersion in something cold and wet should be the cure.

I never thought about Uncle Andrew's dunking in connection with Weston's treatment. Thanks for mentioning it.

The Big Sleep J joined the study with this observation :
Something, though, you didn't mention was that Weston said that he prefered the Fallen Oyarsa of Thulcandra (that is, Satan) because "he is a fighter" (or something similar, I don't have the book with me). Could this be a foreshadowing of what is to come in "Perelandra" when Weston gets possessed?

I answered TBSJ by saying "Jumping ahead... " a job for pfifltriggi.
--------------------------------- didn't mention was that Weston said that he prefered the Fallen Oyarsa of Thulcandra... - TBSJ
That's because this is a study of chapter 19 and Weston's remark that you mention does not occur untill chapter 20. And Yes I will have much to say about it. It certainly does sound like a foreshadowing of Weston's possesion in "Perelandra".

TBSJ replied "DOH!" :
Well, I really should buy myself a copy.

Stanley Anderson joined in with "Hey Diddle Diddle" :
I think I mentioned way back at the beginning of this study that the one of the key references to the change in point of view method that Lewis uses to help convey the transformation of Ransom from modern scientific to medieval cosmological world view is the one where he is so accustomed to Malacandrian form that he doesn't even recognize the human forms of Weston and Devine when he first spots them being led to Oyarsa. They seem rather inelegant and disgusting to him, until he realizes who they really are. This is very reminiscent of his reaction to the insect-like creature that he encounters in the underground caves of Perelandra.

I also can't help thinking about a passage in the parody "Bored of the Rings" in connection with Ransom's thoughts upon seeing Weston and Devine -- "...he gathered that they were bipeds, though the lower limbs were so thick and sausage-like that he hesitated to call them legs." In preface of Bored of the Rings (which is patterned hysterically on Tolkien's own preface to Lord of the Rings), it describes Bogies [the parody word for "hobbits"] as having "blunt stubs that can only be called feet because of the position they occupy at the end of their legs". Oh well, enough of that:-)

The chapter mentions how both Weston and Devine, like Ransom, had grown beards in their time on Malacandra. Although this is only a side comment of little import, I can't help thinking of that in contrast to many modern movies where the star male lead can sometimes start off the movie having a beard, but you can bet that by the middle of the movie he will have shaven it off to display his handsome face. It seem to be a matter of economic necessity -- as if the producers or directors want to say "see? Isn't he handsome, even in a beard? But let's not keep him that way -- everyone knows and loves him clean shaven, we just wanted to tease the audience for a bit before we cleaned him up." There are lots of movies that do this -- I notice it a lot (does my own beard make me sensitive to this?:-), "The Fugitive" comes readily to mind, but there are others.

The scene where Weston is prancing about trying to impress the Malacandrians reminded me a bit of something from THS. "[Weston] was bobbing up and down from the knees and holding his head on one side; he was almost dancing and he was by now very hot indeed. For all Ransom knew he was saying 'Diddle, diddle, diddle'." To me, this conjures up that horrid scene from the end of THS where the three NICE men, naked in front of the Head, are worshipping it and chanting "Ouroborindra! Ouroborindra! Ouroborindra ba-ba-hee!" Brr-hr-hr! sends shivers down my back.

The description of the hross song struck me as eerily not unlike (but in a good way, as opposed to Weston's depraved and despairing way) of Weston's description of the "rind" in Perelandra. Here is the Hrossa song: "Let it go hence. Let it go hence, dissolve and be no body. Drop it, release it, drop it gently, as a stone is loosed from the fingers drooping over a still pool. Let it go down, sink, fall away. Once below the surface there are no divisions, no layers in the water yielding all the way down; all one and all unwounded that is element. Send it voyaging here it will not come again. Let it go down; the hnau rises from it..." This last line of course being the key difference between Weston's despair in sinking down into the rind.

Finally, there has been some discussion of Oyarsa's comment about Weston having too much blood in his head. This is almost certainly a reference to the medieval concept of the four humours of which blood or sanguine is one. Each person is thought to have one of those humours dominating in their personality, but everyone has some of all four in their make-up in varying degrees. And each humour has periods of relative strength during the day. So Weston need not have been of the "primary" Sanguine type, but was simply displaying traits of a strong influence of "blood" during his "show". Still it is interesting that in The Discarded Image, Lewis describes the Sanguine man as "plump", and Weston is the "thick one" compared to Devine's lankiness in build.

By the way, in another post, K says "...Since blood is considered a hot and dry humor (don't ask me about the dry part)...". In The Discarded Image, Lewis says that blood is Hot and Moist. Hot and Dry, he writes, is for the humour "Choler". If Hot and Moist is the true makeup of the humour Blood, then dunking Weston's head in cold water might be attempting to push him more into the Cold and Moist or Phlegm humour direction temporarily.


Elaine had this to say :
Just so you know, I have been reading the Chap 19 comments, and pulled my book off the shelf and re-read it. I don't have anything to add to your thoughts, but one comment: some of your abbreviations I don't know (refering to other books). If you continue with Perelandra, I will re-read that one too.


And Stanley replied to her :
I think the main abbreviations I use are THS for That Hideous Strength, and TDI for The Discarded Image (Lewis' scholarly work about the Medieval cosmological view of the universe and Earth). I also use K for the screen name Kanakaberaka that Jim uses (sometimes DZ for Dr. Zeus too, I suppose). Other common ones, though perhaps not used often in this study are the initial letters for the Narnia books, the primary one being LWW for Lion, Witch and Wardrobe. NICE is of course already an acronym in That Hideous Strength. And, let me see, CS stands for Clive Staples (Lewis:-). Can't think of any others at the moment.

But feel free to ask what a particular abbreviation stands for -- we'll be glad to identify any mysteries there.


To which I jested "And Don't Forget... " :
CSL - It stands for Crosby, Stills and Lewis. Crosby and Stills had a skiffle band along with the Cambridge Don before meeting up with Nash and Young.

Elaine replied :
Ok, there was only one I hadn't already figured out! Make that two.

so it goes...
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