Out of the Silent Planet

Out of the Silent Planet Chapter 16 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Ransom wakes the next morning in Augray’s cavern no longer afraid of the sorns, but still hesitant about meeting Oyarsa. Augray offers to carry Ransom to Meldilorn so that Ransom will not risk death on the harandra following the hross’s directions. Ransom tries to defend the hross, who did not mean to send him into danger, but Augray just laughs that the hrossa may be admirable in their acceptance of death, but it is still best to avoid death before one’s time.
The sorns, like the hrossa, are completely willing to help Ransom in any way they can even though Ransom is a total stranger. Ransom now feels loyal to the hrossa, who have become like family over the past weeks. Still, Augray presents a counter-perspective to the hrossan acceptance of death. Lewis’s final position on how to handle death advocates for approaching death with caution, but accepting it when it is one’s time.
Themes
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Acceptance and Curiosity vs. Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
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Augray gives Ransom a portable oxygen tank, made by the pfifltriggi. Ransom tries to find out if the sorns control what the pfifltriggi produce, but Augray says that the pfifltriggi like making things, especially if they present a technical challenge. Ransom puts the oxygen tank on his back and then climbs up onto Augray’s shoulder. Augray sets off towards Meldilorn.
Again Ransom sees how the hnau species coexist peacefully in the utopia of Malacandra. They split the labor of a successful society equally based on what each is good at, presenting another way that peoples with different traits and talents can get along and not exploit each other.
Themes
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Despite the odd, cat-like gait of the sorn, Ransom finds the journey very comfortable - even fun. He observes the strange landscape of the harandra, where Ransom can see the stars of the heavens clearly. He feels again the strange elation that had consumed him on the spaceship. Ransom comments on the rose-colored clouds that he saw when they first landed on Malacandra. Augray explains that these are the old forests of Malacandra, now petrified into stone. There used to be ancient creatures that could fly and lived in the forests when Malacandra had a thicker atmosphere, but now the forests are uninhabitable. Ransom asks how Oyarsa could allow this to happen. Augray responds that nothing is meant to last forever.
Each time Ransom approaches the heavens, he feels the spiritual wellness that comes from being connected to all life and witnessing the home of the “Old One.” Yet just because the Old One and Maleldil want what is best for the worlds that they have created does not mean that everything will be perfect according to Ransom’s view. Where Ransom thinks that the loss of the forests is incredibly sad, Augray sees it as a natural step in a changing universe that is still good after things pass away in their time.
Themes
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In the afternoon, Augray and Ransom see three sorns walking towards them. Ransom is struck by how graceful they look now that he no longer fears them. Rather than ogres or skeletons, they now remind him of angels, and Ransom is ashamed of his earlier disgust for the species. After a few more hours, Augray stops for the night at the home of an older sorn, in an elaborate cave system full of odd scientific instruments and a few rolls of skin that Ransom realizes are books. He asks if there are many books on Malacandra. Augray and his friend respond that it is better to remember things, and say that Oyarsa will not let any crucial knowledge be forgotten.
Ransom is again able to change his perspective on the Malacandrian species by being more open-minded. As he has come to love the hrossa, he also comes to appreciate the sorns for their unique beauty. As his views on the species change, he is also better able to see the wisdom in their approaches toward life. While Ransom may not agree that books are unnecessary, being an academic man, he is able to understand the sorns’ trust of Oyarsa and respect their lack of books.
Themes
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Acceptance and Curiosity vs. Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
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There are several other sorns in the cavern who seem to be students of the older sorn, and Ransom does his best to answer their many systematic questions about Earth, from its geology to human history to art. Ransom feels compelled to be honest about the many wars, conflicts, and crimes of human history, and the sorns respond that these troubles come from the fact that Earth has no oyarsa, only humans all trying to be their own oyarsa.
Ransom is forced to admit to the peaceful and intelligent sorns how broken human society is. Unlike the sorns, who are all content with the will of Oyarsa and so can work towards common goals, humans are split and divided by their own desires. Without the comfort and structure of a hierarchy, humans are left flailing for their own orders.
Themes
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The sorns are very surprised to find that Earth only has one kind of hnau, theorizing that this lack of diversity is one reason why humans are so close-minded - they have no other species to teach them other perspectives. Ransom feels very vulnerable and tired after this conversation, and goes to bed. As he falls asleep, he thinks of the lost forests of Malacandra, wondering about how the sorns feel looking at this beautiful place that is out of reach.
The other species have given the Malacandrians lots of practice accepting those who are different, while humans are more likely to be intolerant of others because they are so tied to their own views on life. Ransom seems to compare the lost forests of Malacandra to his own experience looking at the utopias of the hrossa and the sorns—beautiful things that are out of reach for humans.
Themes
Civilization and Utopia Theme Icon
Acceptance and Curiosity vs. Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon