Out of the Silent Planet – Chapter Twelve


Ransom works with Hyoi on his boat and they converse. The work feels like war preparation to Ransom so he tries to engage Hyoi on the subject of war, but makes little progress. Hyoi doesn’t seem to have a concept for war, nor can he imagine a reason for taking up arms against other hrossa, nor the seroni or pfifltriggi. He trusts Maleldil that there will always be enough food and land for his people, and so there should never be a reason to need to fight other hnau for these things.

In the course of the conversation, Ransom and Hyoi discuss love and having children and whether the hross would try to repeat that inappropriately just because it is enjoyable. (I’m not sure here whether he is speaking specifically of sexuality or more generally of romantic love and childbearing and rearing. I feel its the latter, but that the sexuality is definitely involved.)

They then discuss the hunting of the hneraki (plural of hnakra), that the hrossa try to kill the hneraki and vice versa. Hyoi speaks, essentially, of how it is the will of Maleldil for them to hunt each other and how they are enemies but still care for each other. Hyoi tells of a time when he was high int he mountains and had a wonderful experience where the hneraki dwell. And finally they speak of the eldila which Ransom cannot see. Hyoi tells Ransom he has different eyes than the hross and so maybe that is why he cannot see them. “But whether your eyes can ever see them I do not know.”


Not a lot to cover here. The conversation meanders some into the more sci-fi oriented but is mostly metaphysically focused – discussions of war, love, hunting enemies, life and death, and finally touching on the eldila.


Ransom and Hyoi cover several topics here:

War and Peace. Previously, Ransom had tried to stay clear of the topic of war, remembering Well’s Cavor. Now he broaches the subject but has a hard time even getting Hyoi to understand what he means. Hyoi’s poetic mind seems to have a hard time staying on point and he moves from topic to topic in a stream-of-consciousness type way. It becomes clear that Hyoi and his people, trust Maleldil to provide all that they need: “But Maleldil will not stop the plants growing.” This is an almost Edenic understanding of the world around him, of the harmony he shares with it, and how this Maleldil administers it.

Love. Then they address the pleasure of love and the stages of life where it seems most prevelant. His understanding is that love and other pleasurable experiences are fleeting, so one would want to repeat them in order to relive that pleasure. Hyoi’s understanding of pleasure is much different. To him, truly enjoying the pleasure is in remembering it – that is when it is fully consummated: “A pleasure is full grown only when it is remembered. You are speaking, Hman, as if the pleasure were one thing and the memory another. It is all one thing.”

Pleasure. Experiences – specifically pleasures here – are what make us. The pleasure is like the best line of the poem. Trying to go back only to the splendid line would kill it. It is splendid because of what comes later, just as a pleasurable experience enriches our entire life and not just the moment of the pleasure.

This is easily applicable in our lives. Our desire for comfort and pleasure is as strong as almost any other desire we have. This passage also reminds me of Ecclesiastes 7:2-4

It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart. Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.

Lewis isn’t exactly saying the same thing here, through Hyoi’s voice, but he is warning against chasing the repeated pleasures. Let life’s pleasure last in its remembrance.

Sin. We find Ransom using the terminology of something being “bent” to describe something morally reprehensible or sinful. Hyoi, however, scarcely has a mental classification for a person who is bent, or sinful, turning against his people, Maleldil, or acting selfishly. There seems to be some slight degree of mental illness that he is aware of, saying “and last of all they say that he fell into such a frenzy that he desired two mates,” but not of someone being sinful.

He also discusses death, though he mentions it with warm, fulfilling and full of hope, not the death we are accustomed to. Malacandra is not quite Eden, but it is much closer to it than what we currently have in our own world.

The Hunt. There have been many cultures that incorporated hunting and war as central. The vikings would likely be among these. We could also consider the buffalo hunting cultures of Native Americans. The buffalo were never the enemy, and yet their goal was to kill them and use them for survival. The buffalo provided their way of life. They hunted the buffalo and loved them. This is not quite the same as we see with the hrossa and the hneraki, but it is similar: “The hnakra is our enemy, but he is also our beloved.” They feel his joy and life, but also hunt him. And sometimes the hnakra will kill a hross: “And if he kills me, my people will mourn and my brothers will desire still more to kill him. But they will not wish that there were no hneraki; nor do I.”

As I think about the hunt, other sci-fi hunter-warriors come to mind such as the Predator and the Klingon. The Predator, especially, hunts and enjoys the hunt, but does not despise the hunted, even having mercy on those who he finds unworthy to hunt due to medical problems and such. The Klingons seem to despise many of their enemies, but their way of life as hunter-warriors is important to them apart from there enemies.

Life and Death. We see that death is not something to be feared for the hrossa, but a stage of life that they look forward to. It enhances the rest of life. Hyoi tells of a wonderful but dangerous time where he was in the vicinity of the hnakra but relying completely on Maleldil. Because he was near death, his life since has been greater:

“There I drank death because life was in the pool. That was the best drink save one.”

“What one?” asked Ransom.

“Death itself in the day I drink it and go to Maleldil.”

But he says it isn’t death that

Many of these concepts are difficult and I think beneficial to meditate on. They are given only in the conversation between the two. Its especially hard given Hyoi’s way of communicating.

Lastly we have a short discussion of the eldila. So, as at the end of the last chapter, we are left with the question, what is an eldil? “They come from Oyarsa – they are, I suppose, a kind of hnau.” Well what does that mean? Maybe someday Ransom will see one and maybe he will never be able to. It would seem he needs new eyes: “One can see by looking at your eyes, Hman, that they are different from ours. But eldila are hard to see… But whether your eyes can ever see them I do not know.”

Overall, I would call it a really interesting chapter.

PROPOSED CHAPTER TITLE (Lets pick on Steinbeck this time):

Above Eden



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s