That Hideous Strength – Chapter 3, Section 5

SUMMARY

Jane leaves St. Anne’s determined to treat all she has heard as nonsense, though not convinced it is nonsense. She wants to live her own life – a sentiment that crossed over into her marriage and desire to avoid having children. Once home, Mrs Dimble calls and needs a place to spend the night, saying only that “such a dreadful thing’s happened.”

DISCUSSION

Jane’s desire to live her own life is certainly a desire we all share on some level. Giving it up and really getting invested in others and vulnerable with others is, I think, one of the keys to happiness. Lewis seems to agree here. I am reminded of a song (youtube link) by Andy Gullahorn:

I’ve heard that you can tell the ones who truly open up
Their lives are marked with freedom and with peace

Freedom and peace do not mark Jane’s life at this time. I think this is the third time her being childless by choice has been noted. This desire to live one’s own life has interfered with her marriage and the possibility of having children (something most find fulfilling though difficult and demanding sacrifice). Jane does not want to sacrifice, does not want to give of herself in a truly costly way. I don’t want to be too hard on her though, for her husband certainly isn’t considering any true sacrifice either.

Jane has, at this point, rejected the idea of acting on faith, and it isn’t because she is convinced that Miss Ironwood’s words were all nonsense. She holds out the intellectual possibility that it may be true. There are 3 steps in acting on faith or believing.

  • The first is knowledge. Jane doesn’t have all the knowledge it would be nice to have, but she at least has the introduction to the idea that there is nothing wrong with her to be cured, that her “vision” is a gift. She has the beginning of the knowledge, she has what is required to further explore.
  • The second is assent. That is intellectual assent to it, saying “it is true.” She certainly isn’t convinced of it’s truth but she is questioning. “She was not indeed sure that it was nonsense…”[continued below] (70).
  • The third is trusting or having allegiance to the thing. She has rejected this, at least for now. “… but she had already resolved to treat it as if it were” (70).
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