Ransom and the hross (Hyoi) finish eating and the hross gets into the boat. Ransom wishes he could ask whether the hrossa (plural of hross) or the sorns are the dominant species on Malacandra, but doesn’t have the words. He hopes that the kind hross is in charge, but fears that the sorns are even smarter than the hross and rule the planet ruthlessly. Ransom realizes that the hross may just deliver him to the sorns, but decides that the best choice at this point is to get into the boat with the hross.
Ransom is so used to power struggles among cultures on Earth that he cannot imagine that two separate species would be able to coexist without one dominating the other. He also shows the human fear of intelligence as something that can manipulate and harm others. Ransom expects Hyoi to betray him, displaying mankind’s own tendency towards sin.
The hross (Hyoi) begins to paddle down the river. They pass through the forest and paddle out into a large lake. Ransom realizes that they are in a deep gorge with highlands ringed by the green jagged mountains on either side. Ransom tries to ask the hross about this landscape, and learns that the gorge is called a “handramit” and the highland is called the “harandra.”
Lewis again turns to building the world of Malacandra, describing it in beautiful terms that show that this world is a true paradise. It is exactly as wonderful as it seems, something that is hard for Ransom to accept when he comes from the world of Earth where good things are not to be trusted.
The hross (Hyoi) stops paddling as the boat begins to flow in a strong current. The strange, choppy waves make Ransom horribly seasick and he is ashamed to think that this is the vision that the hross will have of humankind. The hross watches Ransom, seemingly expressionless. Thankfully, the current slows soon and the hross jumps out of the boat into knee-deep water. Ransom follows, and the hross picks up the boat and carries it to land.
Ransom is the lone representative for mankind among the hross, pointing to the ways that Lewis uses Ransom as an example for all people in his spiritual awakening throughout the novel.
Ransom and the hross (Hyoi) walk along a ridge where Ransom can see the full landscape of Malacandra. He is amazed at the sharp contrast between the jewel-like lowlands and the pale highlands. He realizes that the red, flat, highlands must be the true surface of the planet. The hross teaches Ransom more words as they walk, especially concerned that Ransom understand the relationship between “hrossa” and “handramit” and “seroni” and “harandra.” Ransom assumes that this means the hrossa live in the handramit and the seroni, whatever those creatures are, live on the harandra. He muses that the hrossa may be a primitive culture with gods called seroni. It is only hours later that Ransom realizes that “seroni” may be the irregular plural of “sorn.”
The red highlands are the first clue to which planet Malacandra is in terrestrial terms. Mars, known as “the red planet,” seems to be the best fit for the facts of Ransom’s journey so far. Hyoi continues to educate Ransom about the culture of life on Malacandra, though Ransom misunderstands the intelligence of the hrossa. Due to their lack of technology, Ransom assumes that the hrossa civilization is not advanced, and so ascribes to the hrossa superstitions such as gods called seroni.
Ransom and the hross (Hyoi) walk to another stream and continue the journey by boat as the sun sets. The boat lands again and Ransom makes out dozens of hrossa forms by firelight. Ransom wishes desperately that he could see men, even Weston and Devine. A small hross, presumably a young pup, approaches Ransom and Ransom’s fear dissipates again at the sight of the cute little being. The rest of the night passes as if in a dream, as Ransom eats with the hrossa, and then is shown a place to sleep.
Ransom again longs for what is familiar, even though he knows that the other humans on this planet are actively trying to hurt him. He would rather face a known danger than to continue to trust in the unknown. Yet the curiosity, kindness, and acceptance of the pup help distract him from these fears.