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 21 Study

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

Chapter 21 Study

Postby Kanakaberaka » 15 May 2006, 14:05

Synopsis: Ransom tells Oyarsa the story of Maleldil's doings on Thulcandra and he is amazed beyond belief to hear the story. Now the three Thulcandrans must leave Malacandra and make it to planet Earth within 90 days or risk being made "unbody", nothing. Weston attempts a desperate maneuver by cutting across Earth's orbit closer to the Sun. After a near collision with the Moon, Ransom awakes to find himself back on Earth abandoned by Weston and Devine. Shortly after Ransom leaves the spacecraft, it disintegrates in a flash of light.
--------------------------------------------------------------
This chapter is the end of the story, for all practical purposes. I enjoyed the way Lewis handled the begining where Ransom explains the story of the incarnation of The Lord to Maleldil. We are spared the details of the Gospels. Instead we are given Oyarsa's reaction to Ransom's telling of the story -
"You have shown me more wonders than are known in the whole of heaven."
A much more satisfying response than a Suday school lecture would have been. And yet I wonder if some readers might have been baffled by Oyarsa's wonderment.
Next comes the ninety day race through the heavens for the safety of Earth ( but are they allowed 90 Thulcandrian days or Malacandrian days?). I have the feeling that Lewis included this detail in his story to add dramatic tenision to the ending. It works very well for an adventure story. In fact, if the three Thulcandrans were simply sent away and told not to come back to Malacandra ever again it would have be an anti-climax. This element of uncertainty glues us to our seats in true ripping yarn style. But it also has me wondering if Oyarsa employed an empty threat against Weston and Devine to ensure Ramsom's safety. Both bent hnau escape the spaceship, leaving Ransom to his fate. And yet the vessel does not unbody untill Ransom is well on his way down the road.
It also makes me wonder what other knowledge Oyarsa is holding back on. There are some hints from Oyarsa -
"It seems to me that this is the beginning of more comings and goings between the heavens and the worlds and between one world and another -though not such as the Thick One hoped. I am allowed to tell you this. The year we are now in -but heavenly years are not as yours -has long been prophesied as a year of stirrings and high changes and the siege of Thulcandra may be near its end. Great things are on foot. If Maleldil does not forbid me, I will not hold aloof from them."
Quite a good "teaser" for the next two books in the trilogy. It seems to me that C.S. Lewis was following all the "Scientifiction" conventions of the day when putting this allegory disguised as an adventure together. There is also the hint that we are living in the Last Days before the return of Our Saviour. I enjoyed details such as Devine's hysteria and attempt to introduce the "natives" to tobacco. Only the pfifltriggi show an interest in smoking.
And Ransom's view of their ascent from Malacandra put the whole journey into perspective with it's expanding view of the planet untill it was simply Mars.
_________________
so it goes...
so it goes...
User avatar
Kanakaberaka
Wardrobian
 
Posts: 1028
Joined: Jul 1999
Location: Just outside of Rego Park, NYC

Original Chapter 21 Comments

Postby Kanakaberaka » 15 May 2006, 14:13

Stanley Anderson had this to say about Chapter 21 :
One of my first thoughts on this chapter is "why did Oyarsa make it so hard on the journey home. They said they'd need 90 days, so that's what Oyarsa gave them in terms of air and food. Why not give them air and food for, say 100 days, or unlimited? Perhaps the bare necessities made them work harder? In any case, the deus ex machina ending made it seem sort of pointless, unless Oyarsa's comment to Ransom, "You are guilty of no evil,...except a little fearfulness. For that, the journey you go on is your pain, and perhaps your cure".

I was also a little confused about the last bits before they left. They were to take off in the ship "tomorrow". Does that mean the Malacandrians brought the ship to the Meldilorn handramit? Or did they do a quick march (that took Augray and Ransom at least a couple days going the other way through a short cut) to the original handramit where they landed? Before they leave, it says that Ransom took a last look around at the "familiar handramit". Does this suggest he is back at the old handramit?

After they lift off and Ransom sees all the lands below him on the planet that he didn't see, he contemplates about how his "knowledge of Malacandra was minute, local, parochial". This echoes the end of the "Fog" chapter excerprt from THS that I've quoted often here as one of my favourite Lewis passages, along with the passage from The Discarded Image about the difference between the Medieval classical view of the universe and the Modern Scientific romantic view.

In fact, this whole section is another wonderful display of that contrast and the progression of Ransom's thoughts into the Medieval cosmological view of the universe. The transformation is nearly complete as he thinks "...for now he was convinced that the abyss was full of life in the most literal sense, full of living creatures." I wish I had the time to go sentence by sentence through these three or four pages to show the delightful "fictional exposition" of the Medieval world view presented in this section as described in The Discarded Image.

But the modern scientific mind still makes one last stab at recapturing Ransom's mind. The effort is illustrated, I think, symbolically by Ransom's impression of the dark arms of the black crescent that begins surrounding the Malacandran landscape where he suddenly realizes that the dark arms are th beginning of the surrounding black sky that they are rising into. This attack becomes more pervasive as they make their perilous journey across the interplanetary space. As they become more concerned about reaching Earth, Ransom finds that "his celestial mood was shattered".

Oh, there's so much here I could go on and on about. But I'll finish this post for now with the observation that the story essentially ends the way it started. Ransom finds himself drenched in a rain storm walking along to find shelter and perhaps a pub. But here the "nightmare" vanishes in a vivid light and a momentary wind and he finally finds his shelter in the cozy pub. Perhaps not unlike the Dark Island episode in Dawn Treader.

The end, getting back to where the story started with a nice finish reminds me a lot of Watership Down where the first and last sentences are very similar (the first sentence is "The primroses were over" and the last is "...where the first primroses were beginning to bloom".

--Stanley


I replied with "We have lift-off" :
I was also a little confused about the last bits before they left. They were to take off in the ship "tomorrow". Does that mean the Malacandrians brought the ship to the Meldilorn handramit? - Stanley
---------------------------------------------
Now that you mention the order to leave ASAP it has me wondering as well. Was Weston's spaceship brought to Meldilorn or did everyone in Meldilorn travel over to the vessel's landing site? Is it possible that the hrossa rolled it along the river at the bottom of the handramit like a giant beach ball? It would be a downstream trip. While I am sure that the sorns would be able to figure out how the vessel operated, I doubt that they would have been able to fit inside. Maybe the eldils lifted it up and flew it over to Meldilorn? Oddly, by the time Ransom assumes his observation post after lift-off, the vessel has already attained a high altitude. Weston's space sphere must have had a smooth ascent. So we can't be sure if they were taking off from Meldilorn.
The reason for that 90 day time limit also has me wondering. I can understand the need to get Weston and Devine off of Malacandra forthwith. But once they are all spaceborne, why should it matter how long they took? It sounds to me that Lewis simply wanted to wrap up his story with one last edge of the seat thrill. Considering that it is about space travel, why not? What happened after their near collision with our moon has me wondering how they escaped doom. Remember that Weston fell into deep despair, while Devine showed some "stiff upper lip" and navigated the vessel back into open space with the certainty of death. Ransom fell asleep in prayer, only to wake up back on terra firma. I wonder if the eldils escorting the spacecraft gave it a push in the right direction while Ransom slept and Weston wept? I am sure that Devine would be only too happy to take the credit for saving the day.
_________________
so it goes...
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 2 guests

cron