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Chapter 2 - The Bus Ride

PostPosted: 21 Jun 2010, 16:16
by Nerd42
Song: Phil Woodward - "The Grey Town"
"If you open your eyes, you'll see it's heaven."


Sorry for being gone everybody I've been busy. So, in chapter 2, we're riding on the bus. Let's take a look at the characters in chapter 2:

The Ghosts of Chapter 2

The Tousle-Headed Poet
He's super arrogant ,that much is obvious but there may be more lurking beneath the surface. Is the Tousle-Headed Poet a caricature of Communism in general or what exactly?

The Salesman (Ikey?)
This guy knows all about Hell. It is through him we learn that the people in Hell have what I call "superpowers" to think houses and make them appear, though they don't really keep out the rain. He tells us that Hell is always expanding as people quarrel and move further away from each other. He says that the Bus Stop is "thousands of miles from the Civic Centre where all the newcomers arrive from earth" and that it's taken hundreds of years for them to get there.

Napoleon Bonaparte
Forever pacing, blaming everyone but himself for his problems. I'd recommend the Reader's Digest biography of Napoleon for anyone who doesn't know much about his life, as Lewis's fictionalized version seems exactly in character to me.

The Salesman's Plan
The Salesman's idea to try to form a community around actual limited commodities doesn't seem to be, on the face of it, entirely without merit. I was in a philosophy classroom one time (not in the class - just in the room after it was over) and saw that all the students had written definitions of "community" on the board. It was all mushy emotional stuff. Not one of them had defined it as a situation created by economic scarcity. I must admit to admiring the practical mindset of the salesman, despite the futility of his plan. I think he represents materialism.

The Big Man
Hates the implication that Hell might not be safe.

The Fat Clean-Shaven Man
He wants to turn everything about Hell around in people's minds and make it seem a positive, wonderful experience. (shudder) He's a humanist, ready to venerate man over God even at his most depraved point. This guy is who Woodward is singing about when he says, "If you open your eyes, you'll see it's heaven."

And then the light starts to grow and we're on to chapter 3.



So, questions for discussion in chapter 2. Well, there are alot of them. What are these superpowers and what rules apply to them? What other famous people might some "chaps" be taking a trip to see now, and what attitude might they be in?

Re: Chapter 2 - The Bus Ride

PostPosted: 23 Jun 2010, 15:12
by maralewisfan
The characters are quite interesting, but you learn more about several of them later in the book. One of things that I found most interesting was the reaction from the people on the bus to the window being put down. What does the fear tell us?

Re: Chapter 2 - The Bus Ride

PostPosted: 24 Jun 2010, 16:32
by paminala
It is while he is talking to the poet that we get a glimpse of our narrator's character. I don't think he is the disinterested observer he tries to appear. He chooses to sit alone when he gets on the bus, but the poet comes and joins him. He quickly loses patience with the young man's self-centered tale. The idea of having to read any of the poetry moves him to a lie (I don't have my reading glasses.)
In fact I believe he sees himself as just a bit above all the others until he meets his own reflection in the driver's mirror.

Is it possible that those he converses with on the bus reflect aspects of himself during his life?

Re: Chapter 2 - The Bus Ride

PostPosted: 26 Jun 2010, 19:35
by Nerd42
Hmm well I should perhaps point out that the protagonist is, in fact, different from all the others in that he is still alive and dreaming while they are dead. So this "feeling" he has may not be a reflection of his character but of that reality.

Re: Chapter 2 - The Bus Ride

PostPosted: 26 Jun 2010, 20:38
by agingjb
Most of the information about the town is conveyed on the bus ride. Two points: the information comes from people who are, perhaps, not the most reliable of witnesses; and they don't seem to find it odd that they are talking to someone who hasn't been there for (subjective) centuries and is unfamiliar with the town.

Re: Chapter 2 - The Bus Ride

PostPosted: 01 Jul 2010, 05:09
by nomad
Interesting point about the narrator, paminala. I was thinking that, at least the beginning of the encounter with the young poet probably reflected a situation Lewis may have often been in himself. I'm sure more than one would-be writer sent him their work and probably tried to read it to him if they got the chance. I hadn't taken it the step further of the narrator feeling superior... but if it is an autobiographical moment, that would certainly be characteristic of Lewis to recognize that feeling in himself and "call himself out" on it.

I love the way the re-telling of the poet's life story shows how his self-righteous political stance is really a product of his self-centered attitude and is really an attempt to cover up his own short-comings. I think I've met people like that.

Re: Chapter 2 - The Bus Ride

PostPosted: 01 Jul 2010, 15:37
by cyranorox
The poet is not political at all. He's the man who's a communist when he's poor and a neocon when he's got his pile: no principle but self-interest. I've met these types, too. His chief crime is suicide; the rest, except the romance, is merely the story of an ass. Notice he is a pseudo-feminist, too. He is happy to have a bohemian lover, but dumps her when she wants marriage and fidelity from him[the 'mass of bourgeois prejudices'] .

Re: Chapter 2 - The Bus Ride

PostPosted: 01 Jul 2010, 16:48
by paminala
If he (the Poet) is political it is only the sort of what-can-they-do-for-me politics that too many people are afflicted with today. He opposes the 'system' that keeps him from success and looks for one that will nurture him. Unfortunately the grass is always greener.
This is the type of person who is easily manipulated by politicians who promise to cure all your ills and pay all your bills if you will only elect him. Thinking people know these plans can't work but those like the Poet, who want to believe that there is a system out there that will take care of them, are taken in.

Re: Chapter 2 - The Bus Ride

PostPosted: 01 Jul 2010, 17:10
by cyranorox
@ Pam- you've swung it to reflect your ideas about government. IMHO, the poet will take government or friend, private or public, and always prefer what feeds him. There is, in fact, a system that would take care of him: inherited wealth, property and rank; not that he would be satisfied or happy, of course. for that matter, so would anarchosyndicalism or Bellamite socialism. but he does not want only to receive his material wants and needs; he wants to be thought special.

Re: Chapter 2 - The Bus Ride

PostPosted: 01 Jul 2010, 17:43
by paminala
But that is part and parcel of being "taken care of" in his world view. Not just basic needs but recognition and acclaim. He doesn't want to be part of something, he wants to stand out. He failed at being political because to do that means being a small part of something greater. I think that is why he will not be able to complete the trip.

Re: Chapter 2 - The Bus Ride

PostPosted: 05 Jul 2010, 16:37
by Matthew Whaley
There is one thing that the Intelligent Man hints at to the narrator in the course of their conversation on the bus that makes me wonder that life in Grey Town is going to change for the worse in the end. He believes that the evening is going to become night and when it happens, "They" will come and do something to all the inhabitants for which there is no refuge or defense. The Intelligent Man takes for granted that this is common knowledge and that it is one thing that no one wants to talk about or think about because it is perhaps too horrible.

Re: Chapter 2 - The Bus Ride

PostPosted: 06 Jul 2010, 19:33
by cyranorox
Of course- this is the holding place, Purgatory or hell, before the Resurrection, at which time all shades ['ghosts'] will receive their bodies, except perhaps suicides, pace
Dante. CSL held this belief. That is the meaning of the Sunrise at the end, the Day without evening.

Re: Chapter 2 - The Bus Ride

PostPosted: 10 Jul 2010, 23:39
by Matthew Whaley
I was thinking it was a reference to Screwtape Proposes a Toast where Screwtape says;
But it would be vain to deny that the human souls on whose anguish we have been feasting tonight were a pretty poor quality. Not all the most skillful cookery of our tormentors could make them better than insipid. Oh, to get one's teeth again into a Farinata, a Henry VIII or even a Hitler! There was real crackling there; something to crunch; a rage, an egoism, a cruelty only just less robust than our own.
Maybe the Intelligent Man believes that a some point he and the rest of the shades will become food for the demons when purgatory does finally become hell.

Re: Chapter 2 - The Bus Ride

PostPosted: 10 Jul 2010, 23:39
by Matthew Whaley
That, to me, would explain who "They" are why the shade's houses would offer no protection.

Re: Chapter 2 - The Bus Ride

PostPosted: 12 Jul 2010, 14:58
by maralewisfan
Matthew,
That makes sense to me on who "They" are. Did anyone else find it interesting that when the window was put down someone told the narrator "Do you want us to catch our death of cold?" Since they are already dead this comment was interesting to me.