The following day Ransom observes the Fixed Land from his floating island. Visible in the distance is a mountain of sorts rising from the water. The Green Lady tells him that Maleldil’s one rule for them is that they must not sleep overnight on the Fixed Land. The Green Lady wants to travel there and search for the King during the day because they often visit but never spend the night.
At some point during the conversation, “something like a shooting star seemed to have streaked across the sky, far away” (65-66). The Green Lady said that something had fallen from the Deep Heaven.
They ride fish, a bit like horses, to the Fixed Land. There are some new flora and fauna there including black and white “Piebalds” after which she had named Ransom. They climb the central island pillars or columns which proves more difficult for Ransom than for the Green Lady. At one point he scrapes his knee and bleeds a bit which the Lady finds fascinating and wants to try herself until “Maleldil apparently told her not to” (69).
Ransom and the Green Lady survey the surroundings from their high vantage point and cannot see the King anywhere but are able to see the object that fell from the Deep Heaven. It was a spaceship that had carried Weston to Perelandra. At this point Ransom knows he has been sent to keep Weston from trying to take over the world. The Green Lady wants to meet the newcomer, but Ransom wants to speak to the eldila first. The Green Lady tells him the eldila do know have authority on Perelandra, that that is no longer Maleldil’s way.
Ransom tries to stop the Green Lady from meeting Weston but is unable and all three meet up on the shore of the Fixed Land.
The Perelandra chapters are a little more dense than those of OOTSP, or at least longer.
First, there’s a spaceship that travels from Earth to Perelandra. We don’t have much new info about this as compared to the one in OOTSP. Lets assume it is similar unless proved otherwise. Additionally its notable that Weston expected a watery planet and thus brought a boat (72).
There are some new flora and fauna here. The Piebalds are large black and white rodent-type things. Described as mouselike, good at “bounding,” and “clearly built for climbing. They seem to be herbivores as they eat the bluish turf or grass that is present (68). The bluish turf is softer than anything on earth and with crimson flowers (69).
Then there are the fish that carry them to the Fixed Land. They seem designed for just such a task and also to glory in fulfilling it (67).
The columns or mountain up which they climb seems to be the only Fixed Land on the planet. There may be more in other parts but the Green Lady clearly has this bit of land in mind when she talks about visiting it and looking for the King (66). The plateau that they climb to and the columns stretching upward from it is described as a “cathedral spaciousness” (69 ). Its almost as this is some type of holy place.
Regarding this “cathedral spaciousness,” this “Fixed Land” (63) upon which there is an injunction from Maleldil against sleeping there overnight (64), it really seems the order is not to live there, to “dwell there” (64) more than simple sleeping. A nap may be OK. But taking up residence is forbidden. It may even be that an accidental stay overnight would be overlooked. The rule is not to live there, but the Green Lady equates sleeping there over night with living there.
What to make of this rule? At first it seems like the Fixed Land is a bad place, a place to avoid living due to some bad effects that will be brought. But later it seems so majestic and compared to a cathedral. I think this may be a holy place. A place set apart for some holy reason. A dwelling for Maleldil, if temporary? I don’t know but I get a sort of Moses-at-the-burning-bush holy-ground connotation from the prose. Take your shoes off, Moses, this place is holy. Do not sleep here, Green Lady, this place is holy. That may be way off. It is just an initial impression.
Long ago on Thulcandra the first Man and Woman were likewise given one injunction. But the serpent took it upon himself to twist the injunction and then tempt to break it, successfully. My assumption, in learning of the law on Perelandra in the same chapter as Weston arrives, is that Weston will tempt the Green Lady into breaking this law. I recall from my previous reading some years ago that Ransom and Weston engage in an epic struggle, but I can’t recall what specifically precipitates the clash. At this point I think they will contend over this issue.
I find it notable, the Lady’s statement, “There can, then, be different laws in different worlds” (64). I think this is not unlike there different ways to think about old testament laws in new covenant times. It isn’t that the substance of the OT law becomes pointless, its that it must be viewed differently. It is still reflective of God’s will but its application may be changed. Maleldil’s injunction against dwelling on the Fixed Land reflects his will and his eternal attributes, as does his injunction against eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. But it is a different law and works in a different way.
All kinds of avenues of thought are opened up regarding what Maleldil’s will would be for another planet, for Perelandra for example. We need not consider those now, but let us think about this. God knew well that humanity would fall when he created us, yet he did so anyway and gave us one command which we broke. He knows, in the hypothetical world of Lewis’ Space Trilogy, whether the King and Queen of Perelandra will obey his command there. Will it stand forever? What will he do if they break it? We have no idea. All we know is that he commanded and the Green Lady seems resolved to keep that command, just as Eve seemed resolved to keep ours – for she told the snake that they weren’t even to touch the fruit of that tree. That was wrong but I think it showed her resolution to obey.
I just want to note a few other things here, quickly:
One, there are no eldila to rely on this time. Ransom is essentially on his own. He can’t appeal to their knowledge or power as he was able to do on Malacandra. There, he was not the prime mover in defeating Weston and Devine. Oyarsa was. Here it seems that weight will lie on his shoulders alone. Granted he is sent by the will of Maleldil with his blessing, but outside of that providential hand, he is the chief instrument.
Two, the chapter begins with a lengthy description of how Ransom never really feels alone on Perelandra. There is always this presence. “There seemed no room,” (62). This was almost “intolerable” when he wanted to feel alone. But when he gave himself up to it, it was comforting. “There was no burden to be borne. It became not a load, but a medium… Taken the wrong way, it suffocated; taken the right way, it made terrestrial life seem, by comparison, a vacuum.” As Ransom’s time there passed, he went from having mostly the former types of times to having mostly the latter. He was letting go of his own control and trusting. In what he trusted is not elaborated on but I think it can safely be described as Maleldil’s presence.
PROPOSED CHAPTER TITLE
The Tempter’s Arrival