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Chapter 3 - part 4

The final book in Lewis' theological science fiction Space Trilogy.

Chapter 3 - part 4

Postby Kanakaberaka » 27 Feb 2009, 00:02

Synopsis : As Mark puts on his best new suit in antisipation on dinner, he reflects upon the conversation he had with "Fairy" Hardcastle. At the table he is seated next to Hingest who informs Mark that he intends to leave the N.I.C.E. that night and offers Mark a ride back to Edgestow as well. Hingest suggests that Mark would be better off at Brackton than with the N.I.C.E. Miss Hardcastle interrupts their conversation, inquiring if Hingest could give her a lift to Brenstock. Hingest tells her that he will be traveling by a different route. After losing sight of Hingest, Mark finds him as "The Blizzard" is leaving the institute. Mark is offered one more chance to return to Edgestow, which he turns down. He then finds a way back in that avoids the other guests and heads back to his room.

This section fills in the details left out at the end of the second part of this chapter. We learn what it was that "Fairy" Hardcastle had to say to Mark. She bagan by shocking him with the sort of humor women were not meant to share with members of the opposite sex. And then went on to horrify him with her true-life experiences working for the police. As well as being arrested by them. This sort of worldlinesss facinated Mark to no end. both he and Hardcastle were on the same page as far as their respect for the use of force was concerned. In fact the "Fairy" commented that Mark's field of sociology was the same as her police work. Convincing the common people to "get in line" with the government for their own good. In Lewis' The Screwtape Letters Uncle Screwtape recommends that Wormwood's "patient" get involved with the sort of girl he would ordinarily find repulsive, out of some sort of morbid facination. I think Screwtape was refering to sexual attraction. Yet the "Fairy" has managed to pull Mark in with an odd intellectual attraction. One based on power. In the end, it was the fact that she provided Mark with a feeling of acceptence that sealed the deal. "You're in all right, Sonny," she tells Mark, while warning him about who to beware of in the N.I.C.E.

Contrary to Hardcastle's advice is what Hingest tells Mark at the dinner table. It should be remembered that Hingest does not appear to be a particularly religious man, in spite of his conservatism. His family pride is the center of his life. He does not begrudge the N.I.C.E. because of any moral reasons. He simply thinks that the other N.I.C.E. memebers are beneath his dignity. He turns up his nose on them for what they are rather than because of their dubious goals. He tells Mark : "Oh well, it all depends what a man likes. If you enjoy the society of that Italian eunuch and the mad parson and that Hardcastle girl - her grandmother would have boxed her ears if she were alive - of course, there's nothing more to be said."

Also, in contrast to "Fairy" Hardcastle, Hingest is not at all impressed with Mark's study of sociology. Telling Mark -
"There are no sciences like Sociology. And if I found chemistry beginning to fit in with a secret police run by a middle-aged virago who doesn't wear corsets and a scheme for taking away his farm and his shop and his children from every Englishman, I'd let chemistry go to the devil and take up gardening again."
Hingest is an honest materialist with no interest in joining a conspiracy, which is what he views the N.I.C.E. as being. He much prefers provable objective truth to any sort of pie-in-the-sky ideology, no matter how "progressive" it proclaims itself. This attitude towards sociology sounds to me like a secular version of what G.K. Chesterton had to say about the subject. Chesterton claimed that it is impossible for us to study other men because we our selves are part of humanity and are thus not objective observers.

As Mark and Hingest converse, Hardcastle interrupts their conversation. She's only inquiring about whether or not Hingest can give her a lift to Brenstock. Hingest replies, "No. I leave the by-pass at the crossroads just beyond lord Holywood's front gate and go down what they used to call Potter's Lane."
He does not realize it, but he has given the "Fairy" the very information she has been looking for. More about that in the next chapter. For now it should be enough to know that crossroads have been known in superstition as places where demons and witches lurk. They are regarded as cursed places because spirits, who travel in straight lines, become confused at finding four different choices to travel. Also "Potter's Lane" reminds me of "Potter's Field", a cemetery for those too poor to afford a propper burial.

The next time Mark sees Hingest, "the blizzard' is on his way out to his car. As Mark accompanies him, Hingest once again advises Mark at abandon the N.I.C.E. Mark turns down his advice, saying :
"I suppose there are two views about everything,"

To which Hingest makes his famous reply :
"Eh? Two views? There are a dozen views about everything until you know the answer. Then there's never more than one."

It should be remembered that Hingest says this out of pragmatism, not religious faith. Bill the Blizzard is merely fighting fire with fire. He has his own worldly view and does not want to associate with other inferior views. So it is a matter of pride, not of morals for Hingest. He is certainly a traditionalist and a conservative. It's just that he's not very Christian in his ways. In spite of this, he gives Mark some very good worldly advice.

Finally, as Hingest drives away, Mark stands there as "The shoulder of Orion", also known as the star Betelgeuse, shines above him. Mark is oblivious to this star and the constalation it belongs to. There could be some sort of symbolism here. In classic mythology Orion was the son of the sea god Neptune and the Amazon Queen Euryale. Orion was a boastfull hunter who could take on any beast. Ironicly his downfall came when he was killed by the sting of a tiny scorpion! This might be a warning for Hingest about his fate in the next chapter.
so it goes...
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Kanakaberaka
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Re: Chapter 3 - part 4

Postby Jofa » 03 Mar 2009, 21:53

Lots of very interesting comments in your post K.

I never really read Hingest that way. But it all makes sense. Although I do think he had a bit of a romantic in him of he used to do gardening and would consider taking it up again (on however unrealistic conditions). :wink:
Come to think about that, always had the impression that the N.I.C.E had something to do with chemistry actually...that it was somewhere in the backgroud. But cannot pinpoint what made me think of that. The only thing that comes to my mind is Alcasan's head.

Thanks also for the comments on the crossroads, Potter's Lane and especially on Orion. I was wondering about the meaning of that as somehow the way Lewis wrote these few sentences makes it seem significant.

The Fairy is a mystery to me. I must admit it has been a while since I've read THS and I am one of those people who forget the details of the book pretty quickly so I am reading this fresh. I do not remember how her attitude towards Mark develops but at this point it really seems she actually likes him in a way - maybe simply because she can control and "mother" him. Correct me if I am being absurd here. :smile:

One detail that draws my attention in this chapter is the confusion caused by the fact that pretty much each person Mark talks to warns him about a totally different set of people to beware of. This doesn't seem to bother him though.
"Someday you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again."
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Jofa
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Close Shave

Postby Kanakaberaka » 03 Mar 2009, 21:54

On a nit-picking note, I would like to point out a typo in the first paragraph of part 4. As Mark begins to feel cheerful, Lewis explains -
This was partly due to a whisky and soda taken with "Fairy" Hardcastle immediately before and partly to the fact that by a glance at the mirror he saw that he could not remove the objectionable piece of cotton wool from his lip.

That's how it reads in my Macmillan Publishing Co. edition from 1979. However, in my 1997 Scribner edition it reads -
...he saw that he could now remove the objectionable piece of cotton wool from his lip.

Which makes a lot more sense considering how annoyed Mark had been about his knick from shaving.

I wonder if there was any symbolism intended in this scab-like half mustache? All this tells us is that Mark is clean shaven, one of the few things we are told about his appearance.
so it goes...
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Kanakaberaka
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Re: Chapter 3 - part 4

Postby Jofa » 03 Mar 2009, 22:16

ah, yes. My edition has the typo too. I actually spotted it reading the chapter this time but forgot about it.

What amazed me about the cotton moustache was that there is not a glance or a word mentioned about it after we find out it is there at all. :smile: I forgot about it until it was mentioned again although my first thought was that it must have something that would draw attention.

Can't think of what it could mean, though. :undecided:
"Someday you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again."
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