Perelandra – Chapter Fifteen

SUMMARY

With the Un-man finally dealt with Ransom slowly makes his exit from the cave. He sees many strange things along the way. He stops when he meets the outside world high on a mountain and rests there for several days, eating fruit and drinking water until he begins to heal. He heals well except for a wound to his heel made by human teeth that will not stop slowly bleeding, a wound which he cannot recall having sustained. He also etches into the stone an inscription commemorating the life and death of Weston.

He then begins his journey from the mountaintop, meeting a strange singing animal that seemed quite shy. He finally arrives at a mountain pass that seems somehow holy. He feels he is beckoned in by Maleldil but also that he profanes the area with his presence. There he fines a “coffin, open and empty… brother to the coffin-like chariot” that brought him to Perelandra.

SCI-FI ASPECT

There is much detail in this chapter of Ransom’s environs on Perelandra and some discussion of its fauna. Of note are the differing subterranean world and the surface.

There is the description of the “great earth-beetles” drawing a “flat car” which carried a “mantled form, huge and still and slender” (157). He goes on to say the “inside of this world was not for man” (158). It seems to be the domain of some other god-like beings to whome he may owe “a prudent and courteous apology for trespass.”

Upon the surface, he meets many other living creatures over the next few weeks of rest and travel. Most notable is this singing creature. It is quite bizarre. It was quite shy, forcing him to “hide-and-seek with it for the best part of an hour” (163). It was like a dog, taller than Ransom, black and shiny with a great round white belly, and it “sang of joy in its thickcoming trills.” It tried to constantly evade him. But “it was not fear. When he called to it it came nearer.” Yet he let it go, for it seemed to pursue it would be “an injury to its fawn-like shyness” (164).

There is not an explicit mention as to whether or not this land he is on is the previously visited Fixed Land or some other land much farther away. Given its size and variety I believe its a different country altogether. It seems much larger and different from the previously described Fixed Land. It also seems that Lewis would refer to his previous stopover there if it was the same place.

The style also is somewhat varied from some of the earlier passages. It seems less novel-like and more like some epic prose, almost biblical in “feel” reminding me of McCarthy or Melville, though not as difficult.

Lastly I would like to but mention that there is another one of these odd space-craft here to carry Ransom back to his home planet, and yet two chapters remain.

METAPHYSICAL ASPECT

The high place. First I would like to note this holy place (165). It is a high place, not unlike places considered holy in OT times. Moses went up on a mountain – Mount Sinai – to get the ten commandments. It was also on Mount Horeb that Moses met God at the burning bush. The people of God inappropriately had their “high places” of worship in the OT times. I’m not completely sure what these places were, but they were certainly raised up. Other religions venerate mountains, such as Mount Olympus, home of the ancient Greek gods.

His desire to approach mixed with a healthy portion of trepidation is also reminscent of Moses on Mount Horeb. “This is the holiest and most unholy thing I have ever done” (165) he states as he enters that place and he almost expects to see angels guarding it, not unlike Milton’s Eden.

The low place. Let’s also compare this to the subterranean world he visited. It seemed home to another type of being. It also seemed as though he shouldn’t be present there, but not in the same way. It didn’t seem a holy place, guarded by Maleldil, but a different type of place altogether ruled differently, though not apart from Meleldil’s will. Of its inhabitants, Lewis writes, “The thing… was no doubt his fellow creature. It did not follow that they were equals or had an equal right to be in the under-land” (158). He felt as though there may “be some way to renew the old Pagan practice of propitiating the local gods of unknown places in such fashion that it was no offence to God Himself but only a prudent and courteous apology for trespass.”

This idea is very strange. It is very mystical and practical all at the same time. It makes one wonder how very different the Pagan and Christian practices really are. They are similar in a great many ways, involving a deity, an offense and a “propitiation” to atone for that offense. The Pagan raises the lesser deity to a greater place than deserved and forgets the Christian Deity altogether, but the sin and the sacrifice are present in both.

There is no mention of this under-world as being a holy place. It certainly is ruled by Maleldil but not in so specific a way as the high place he later visits.

The bleeding wound. Lastly there is the issue of the wound on the heel (160). It appeared a human bite, though he could not recollect the specific injury. It did not look unhealthy, but would not stop slowly bleeding. It wasn’t until he entered the high holy place that the bleeding “left no visible trace” (165).

I think there is much to say about this bleeding heel, but lets be brief. First there is a biblical reference, given to Eve after she and Adam had sinned, something Ransom was instrumental in stopping for Perelandra’s counterpart, the Green Lady. Genesis 3:15 states “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

This is taken to mean that, though Satan succeeded in causing Eve to sin and fall, ultimately the offspring of the woman (in Christ, consequently) would destroy Satan and his power, though not without taking an injury himself. This is seen as being fully manifest in Jesus’ death on the cross. He was hurt for sure, going so far as to taste death before resurrecting. But in his pain, his death, he crushed Satan. Then he rose again on the third day, something Satan is unable to do. So it can be said that Satan’s head is crushed while only his heel is injured.

Ransom has crushed the head of the Un-man on Perelandra. But his heel has been injured. Surely this is more than coincidence. Maybe there is a necessary condition to satanic head-crushing. You cannot do it unless you yourself pay some type of a price, a heel injury. He has done the unthinkable in wrestling with the Un-man and winning, but it is not without paying a price. It is not without taking on an affliction within himself that he could do this. In this way, he is a Christ-figure in the book.

Man fell and God became man to save. And now man, made in the image of God and redeemed by God is doing what he could not have done without bearing that image and that redemption. He is, as we have seen, Maleldil’s representative on Perelandra. Through him Maleldil worked his will. This is not the same as God-Incarnate but they idea of Ransom being not his own but of God is underlying.

PROPOSED CHAPTER TITLE

The Bleeding Gift

Advertisements

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 )

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s