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Chapter 5 - part 2

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

Chapter 5 - part 2

Postby Kanakaberaka » 15 Dec 2009, 19:51

Synopsis : Mark's mood is glum at Belbury as he goes to see Wither once again about his position and salary. As usual, the Deputy Director speaks of matters so vaguely it is difficult for Mark, not to mention the reader to bear. Mark appears to be getting an answer from him just when the mail arrives. The easily distracted Wither suggests Mark look over his own mail as well. Mark has recieved a letter from Curry who assumes that Mark has resigned his fellowship. Mark posts an intentionally vague letter back to Curry in which he denies news of his resignation. And yet he feels he must give himself room to leave Bracton College should he be formally accepted at the N.I.C.E. Mark then has a miserable conversation with a fellow new arrival named Stone, only to be interrupedted by the creepy appearance of Wither. Finally Mark thinks he has found a sympathetic ear with Lord Feverstone. Yet to Mark's chagrin, Feverstone retains his jolly demenor as he gives Mark the brush off.


Lewis illustrates Mark's despair about being left out of the activities going on at Belbury in this section. Once again we must read through an excruciatingly detailed account of Wither's words to Mark. Only this time Mark gets a tentative salary agreement of "fifteen hundred a year, allowing for fluctuations calculated on a very liberal basis." That's about as definite as Wither ever gets. But then the morning mail arrives and even this matter is put aside.

In his letter to Mark, Curry mentions the fracas which took place in the previous chapter between the N.I.C.E. workmen and the local inhabitants of Edgestow. This allows Mark to see what's going on back at the college. And yet his main concern is not the sort of organization he wants to be let in on, but whether or not he might end up "falling between two stools".
so it goes...
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Chapter 5 - part 2

Postby Kanakaberaka » 15 Dec 2009, 20:32

At this point Lewis spares his readers further tedium by giving us his literary observation:

There is one sense in which every narrative is false; it dare not attempt, even if it could, to express the actual movement of time.


Lewis then goes on to give a few sparse details of Mark's day, sparing us the actual feel of time standing still for Mark. If this were a film it might be a sort of montage of Mark killing time as tense and tedious music played in the background.

Mark almost finds hope when he bumps into a fellow new arrival named Stone who appeared in Wither's office in the previous chapter. But Mark's joy is short lived as he realizes that Stone is just another "outsider" to be avoided by those accepted. It is also here that Wither begins his ghostlike appearance, interupting their brief conversation. Wither lives up to his name as he seems to be an apparition rather than a flesh and blood man. This unnerves Mark to no end, even though he can't say why.

At last in desperation, Mark goes to Lord Feverstone to clear up the matter of his status in the N.I.C.E. Feverstone proves to be as annoying in his manner as Wither is in his. Feverstone puts on a falsely jovial exterior which allows him to insult others without making it seem offensive. It's all a joke, or so he want's others to think, as he amusedly explains to Mark his refusal to be canvased for Mark's re-elction to his fellowship. Then Feverstone eyes a muffin, and swallows it whole. This reminds me of The Screwtape Letters where Uncle Screwtape reveals that devils desire human souls as food. Feverstone in effect has gobbled up Mark's hopes of returning to Bracton College.
so it goes...
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Re: Chapter 5 - part 2

Postby jo » 16 Dec 2009, 17:50

Despite the fact that I find him otherwise fairly unlikeable at this stage, nonetheless I genuinely felt for Mark in this chapter. Who hasn't experienced the sensation of feeling, by degrees, that they've made the wrong decision or taken the wrong action somewhere along the line and are being headed off on a course which they neither intended, nor desire to take? It is perfectly obvious that Mark is being manipulated - by Wither, by Feverstone, by the NICE itself and yet he is not in a position to alter the course that he has set himself on..
"I saw it begin,” said the Lord Digory. “I did not think I would live to see it die"

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