(Why start with a summary? Some people have read the book, but it has been some time since doing so. The summary enables you to catch up and know what’s going on without re-reading the book. That way you can comment, or just rethink what you have read in the past without the time required to read the book.)
Once inside the home, which Ransom finds to be a mixture of “luxury and squalor,” he discusses how he came to be out in the countryside – a “walking-tour” for pleasure. Further, he describes how he has got out on his own, and not a soul knows where he is, nor does he even have family to speak of. Devine describes, very briefly, Weston’s scientific work and seems to be hopeful of making a good profit from it. Weston, however seems to be into it more for “the march of progress and the good of humanity.”
At this point, Ransom goes into a bit of a daze. In short, he’s been drugged. He has a dream of sorts in which he, Devine and Weston are in a garden surrounded by a wall. At the others’ request he helps them up over it, then climbs it himself. While at the top, unable to go on over into the darkness on the other side, a door opens and some very odd folk bring Weston and Devine back in, leaving them there and locking the door whence they arrived.
As he comes to, he hears Devine and Weston arguing over whether or not “he’ll do” and comparing him to Harry with Devine very much in favor of Ransom while Weston is much more hesitant. Weston shows that he considered Harry, with his mental deficiencies, as less than human, but acquiesces to Devine’s insistence. Ransom then summons what little strength and coordination he has left and bolts for the door in an unsuccessful attempt to escape the clutches of this dastardly duo. But alas, he fails to escape and is drug back into the house.
Again in this early chapter there is little. Weston is shown to be working on some sort of scientific research that he considers to be of great import in moving humanity forward into the next era.
We know little about religious or moral leanings of any of the three men so far involved. In his fiction, Lewis rarely gets deep into the beliefs of his characters where organized religion is concerned, but generally commends a traditional morality in line with the great flow of orthodox Christianity throughout 2000 years of western history. And he generally condemns newer ideas, especially of morality, that would take away from an individual’s worth, what we might call the imago dei, and use a person for other means.
This seems to be how Weston is thinking of Harry – merely a subhuman to be used in some way for the benefit of humanity. This idea of using up a person in order to benefit some other person or all persons in general is a common theme in the Trilogy. Lewis commonly fought against that idea, and strove to help us value everyone. As he once wrote, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.”
This odd dream sequence reminds me somewhat of the dream sequence from that mid-90s Coen Brothers film – the Big Lebowski. Both dreams are drug-induced. Both are without the consent of the dreamer. Both seem to have a deeper meaning, though what that may be is not completely evident. This does not strike me as a mere night terror nor daydream.
I will venture an interpretation, just speculation mind you. It could be that these two – Devine and Weston – are trying to get into something they ought not get into. But they need help in doing so, and compel Ransom to aid them. He does but is not quite content to go along with it. Then the “Queer People” bring them back, admonishing them not to attempt such a thing, to stay in their own “garden.” It seems to fit.
I like the last bit:
Then [Ransom] looked down into the darkness and asked, “Who are you?” and the Queer People must still have been there for they all replied, “Hoo-Hoo-Hoo?” just like owls.
A proposed title for this chapter: Sweet Dreams, Ransom