That Hideous Strength – Chapter 2 – Dinner With the Sub-Warden – Section 1

SUMMARY

Mark Studdock, Feverstone and the Bursar – Busby – have dinner at Curry’s house. During the course of the conversation Feverstone challenges Curry on what the NICE even does or plans to do. Curry really doesn’t know, but is excited about the nuts and bolts of the thing. Busby takes a similar line. Curry must leave to speak with Bracton’s Warden – Charles Place. Once he’s left, Feverstone takes Studdock into his confidence and tells him that he thinks Curry and Busby are hopeless and will never really get what the NICE is all about. He says that they are aiming at solving three main problems – Interplanetary travel (here he mentions Weston by name and says that he was “murdered” by Ransom who he does not name), conquering “our rivals on this planet” (essentially those who would oppose the NICE; people such as Ransom), and finally taking charge of mankind, using science to direct man’s evolution into “a new type of man.” Finally Feverstone tells Mark he could have a place at NICE, which would be a big step up from his place at Bracton, publishing what we might call propaganda (though Feverstone avoids the term) for the government’s consumption.

DISCUSSION

First I want to again note Mark Studdock’s constant desire to be a part of the inner circle. He previously felt that he had arrived, but now there’s a new inner circle. This one includes Feverstone but not Curry or Busby: “Mark was silent. The giddy sensation of being suddently whirled up from one plane of secrecy to another…” (38). He now sees them as underlings to the real inner circle. They are useful as “pawns.”

Secondly there is this thing of the “war.” Feverstone is initially a bit perturbed about the death of Weston (39) – we know much about this which is covered in Perelandra. But then he turns around and discusses the problem of man. He uses no such term as murder here, but speaks of mass murder, the “liquidation of backward races,” forced sterilization, re-education(40). And these other people, the other side – Ransom and his lot – are in the way. Obstructionists, getting in the way of “a new type of man” (40).

Third, note that there is a desire to take control of the language – that’s what Mark’s roll is to be. Feverstone likes the way he writes and thinks it would be useful to the cause. He’s careful not to cast Studdock as merely a useful pawn, but his description of what he sees Studdock doing is obviously that at its core. And that’s part of his use of language. No one wants to be a merely a pawn, but if you dress it up, then it may become quite inviting to fill a need. Feverstone spells out quite simply that the way language is used, the way the message is given to people, will determine whether or not they accept it: “odd thing is – the word ‘experiment’ is unpopular, but not the word ‘experimental.’ You mustn’t experiment on children; but offer [them] an experimental school attached to the NICE and it’s all correct” (41).

And Feverstone constantly comes back to questions of money. He assures Studdock that he will get a modest salary and reports that a man named Jules attached to the NICE “draws a whacking salary” (42). You may recall that in OOTSP, Feverstone was mixed up primarily for the purposes of getting rich quick. That he keep jumping to salary may be that same impulse. Is he associating with the NICE because he thinks it will make him rich? Does he think that is the motivation of the others? He talks more like a true believer. Maybe he is just going to salary to skirt around the real question of what Mark will do at the NICE long-term when really he is just a pawn writing for them. At this point I’m unsure about his motives.

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