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Chapter 1 - The Grey Town

Re: Chapter 1 - The Grey Town

Postby maralewisfan » 01 Jun 2010, 14:29

paminala wrote:I don't have may book with me but I can't remember the bus driver actually speaking to the passengers (am I wrong?) Is it possible that he is just part of the bus? There must be a mechanism of transport from A to B and the resisdents expect a bus so they get one; a bus has a driver so it has one. Because of its origin it is clean and new which they see as excessive because they expect the least possible from anything that is being provided for them (i e rickety and barely functioning with a snarky driver) since that is all they would provide if the situation were reversed.
That they can't accept the bus is the first foreshadowing that they will not be able to accept Heaven. The sorrow is in the fact that they board the bus at all because by doing so they demonstrate that they want what they will never be able to have even though the barriers are all within themselves.
Does anyone here think anyone ever takes the bus trip more than once? (In theory, outside the narrative of the story I mean.) Or is this a sink or swim sort of experience? If they will certainly not stay in Heaven, are they better or worse off when they get back? I imagine the residents there treat them differently, perhaps not in a good way.


For some reason, I think that they do not go back to the grey town and that they would not be able to take more than one trip. I am probably jumping too far ahead but there is never any information about the bus actually going back to return the visitors, and I am thinking of the disappearance of the person whom there was a burnt smell and nothing. I would think that you get one chance at the choice, but who knows.
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Re: Chapter 1 - The Grey Town

Postby agingjb » 03 Jun 2010, 07:38

The description (although perhaps not the function) of the Bus Driver is, fairly certainly, a reference to the angel in Dante's Inferno, Canto 9, who forces open the gates of Dis. The angel in Dante fans the air from his face, and appears to be intent on his task.
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Re: Chapter 1 - The Grey Town

Postby Matthew Whaley » 04 Jun 2010, 18:39

Except in this case the angel is taking Dante to deeper, darker levels of Hades and the residents are scattering in fear before the angel because he is from Heaven. The residents of Grey Town don't seem at all to be afraid of the Bus Driver, his joyful demeanor just seems to irritate them.
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Re: Chapter 1 - The Grey Town

Postby agingjb » 04 Jun 2010, 19:18

I did say "perhaps not the function". But I do think that Lewis intended the reference to Dante. I could be wrong.
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Re: Chapter 1 - The Grey Town

Postby Matthew Whaley » 04 Jun 2010, 21:34

I think you're right about Lewis' reference to Dante, because the Bus Driver is from Heaven as the angel is;
The Driver himself seemed full of light and he used only one hand to drive with. The other he waved before his face as if to fan away the greasy steam of the rain.
TGD. Also as you pointed out in Canto 9 about the angel;
He slowly waved the murky air aside
And ever moved his hand before his face,
Seeming thereby to suffer weariness.
TDC.
"Home is the place where, when you have to go there,
They have to take you in." -Robert Frost
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Re: Chapter 1 - The Grey Town

Postby Nerd42 » 09 Jun 2010, 18:21

agingjb wrote:The description (although perhaps not the function) of the Bus Driver is, fairly certainly, a reference to the angel in Dante's Inferno, Canto 9, who forces open the gates of Dis. The angel in Dante fans the air from his face, and appears to be intent on his task.
Wow interesting
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Re: Chapter 1 - The Grey Town

Postby nomad » 12 Jun 2010, 02:25

Sorry for the long absence. Always forget how busy one tends to be right after a long trip.

But, I have my book now! w00t! And I'd like to talk a bit more about the people in line and how Lewis plays them against one another. The man in the first couple, for instance, who doesn't get on the bus to spite his partner (I assume his wife). His insistence that he never wanted to go makes it quite clear that he does want to go, but would rather give it up than to let her "win". I presume the wife was doing the same thing, although she doesn't say enough to be sure. But to my mind, they probably both really did want to go, but valued "getting the upper hand" over the other more.

And then the short man and the Big man show two seemingly opposite attitudes which are really facets of the same problem. They both take great pride in their status. While the short man is obvious about it, the Big Man veils his in false humility but really he considers his station as a "plain man" to be morally superior to the hoity toity short man. His concern with his rights is smoke and mirrors too... since he was standing in front of the short man so obviously wasn't being denied his rights.

I must confess, I'm not sure what point he was trying to make about the young couple, other than maybe a disapproval of modern fashion. Their contentment (and giggliness) seems out of place in the Grey Town. Are they just distracted?
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Re: Chapter 1 - The Grey Town

Postby paminala » 12 Jun 2010, 19:44

nomad wrote:I must confess, I'm not sure what point he was trying to make about the young couple, other than maybe a disapproval of modern fashion. Their contentment (and giggliness) seems out of place in the Grey Town. Are they just distracted?


Maybe I am reading things that aren't there again, but I assumed the young couple to be homosexual. Am I the only one who got that idea?
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Re: Chapter 1 - The Grey Town

Postby Matthew Whaley » 12 Jun 2010, 19:52

I see that too and it seems they are so focused on each other that they are oblivious to their evironment and everyone around them.
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Re: Chapter 1 - The Grey Town

Postby maralewisfan » 13 Jun 2010, 21:59

I saw the young couple in light of a reference in Screwtape Letter 20, where Screwtape is talking about the type of woman that the patient should be attracted to, "...we now teach men lto like women whose bodies are scarely distinguishable from those of boys." "It is all a fake, of course; the figures in the popular art are falsely drawn; the real women in bathing suits or tights are actually pinched in and more boyish than nature allows a full-grown woman to be." I see a continuation of a theme in the young couple.
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Re: Chapter 1 - The Grey Town

Postby agingjb » 15 Jun 2010, 08:34

Some possible but tenuous references. (Quite probably not in CSL's mind, but as with all good writers, the reader is reminded of other works, and anyway CSL had read "everything").

Blake: "I wander through each charter'd street", London.

Shelley: "Hell is a city much like London", Peter Bell III.

James Thomson, The City of Dreadful Night.

Charles Williams, "All Hallows' Eve". Now this was written just before TGD. Had CSL read it? Well I think we can be sure that he would have read anything by Williams as soon as it became available. Was it an influence? Not directly I would think, but it does start with ghosts in an empty London. Anyway the book is worth reading. It does lead to my wildest speculation. Williams must have read Eliot's Four Quartets, and with a little shoving I can trace some links between that and "All Hallows' Eve". It would be ironic if CSL picked up anything from Eliot's poetry.
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Re: Chapter 1 - The Grey Town

Postby nomad » 16 Jun 2010, 02:40

maralewisfan - I too would lean more in that direction than the homosexuals. Lewis makes reference in more than one place to his dislike of women dressing like or behaving like men - I'm pretty sure he would have found the idea of women's football/soccer abhorrent. But what I'm asking is what danger does Lewis see this posing to the soul? The Screwtape reference seems to reinforce the notion that he sees this as something more than an bad fashion trend. Does he consider it to be inextricably linked with the creeping agnosticism of modern society?

Matthew Whaley wrote:it seems they are so focused on each other that they are oblivious to their evironment and everyone around them.


Yes, but usually being focused on someone other than yourself would put them one step ahead of everyone else in line. Maybe they are the other end of the spectrum from the older couple who left before them. I could easily see how they may have started their journey to the bus stop in that sort of puppy love state, and ended up nagging and squabbling by the time they got there.
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"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best -- " and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.
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Re: Chapter 1 - The Grey Town

Postby paminala » 17 Jun 2010, 15:26

Actually, this just occurred to me. If I remember correctly (looks like I'm going to have to start bringing my book to work) he says something about having a hard time not just telling which is of which gender but actually telling them apart. Thinking of a later scene in the book when one character inhabits 2 bodies, could the young couple be, in reality a single person so afflicted with vanity and self love that he is blinded to all else? In such an environment as the Town, such a thing could certainly manifest itself as one person finally becoming a couple so that he could walk hand in hand with the love of his life.
All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.
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Re: Chapter 1 - The Grey Town

Postby nomad » 18 Jun 2010, 02:18

LOL! Great thought... even if Lewis didn't intend that, it's a worthy interpretation. And it leads me to the (not quite as creative) thought that perhaps they are caught up with each other only because the other's interest in them sustains their ego. Co-dependent, I think that's called.
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"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best -- " and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.
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Re: Chapter 1 - The Grey Town

Postby mwanafalsafa » 04 Aug 2010, 17:36

On the Bus Driver...

By the logic of the allegory it seems to me like the Bus Driver would have to be God.

He and the bus for that matter aren't part of Hell but can shrink down small enough to fit in it. Later in the book it's clearly stated that only God can do this.

But it's also said that God, or Jesus, only went into Hell once and preached to everyone. The bus driver doesn't seem to be doing that.

Of course the entire thing isn't meant to be taken literally and is an allegory, a sort of metaphorical demonstration, of how God, Heaven and Hell work, so maybe it doesn't have such a strong need to be completely non-contradictory (as an explanation of a world really presumed to exist would need to be).
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