Out of the Silent Planet

Out of the Silent Planet Chapter 19 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
When the hrossa party comes closer, Ransom sees that they are carrying three long bundles and guarding two creatures. The two creatures look strangely short and thick to Ransom, until Ransom realizes with a sick feeling that the creatures are humans: Weston and Devine. Ransom sees that the long bundles are the bodies of dead hrossa. The leader of the hrossa party approaches Oyarsa and explains that the humans killed two of their hrossa in fear while the hrossa tried to capture them, but killed Hyoi in cold blood, causing the hrossa much grief.
Ransom has become so accustomed to life among the hrossa and other Malacandrians that the angry humans now seem entirely alien to him, and the Malacandrians seem far superior. The hrossa can somewhat forgive the humans their actions in retaliation for their capture, but they do not condone killing that is not immediately in self-defense.
Themes
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Human Nature and Morality Theme Icon
Acceptance and Curiosity vs. Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
Oyarsa asks Weston and Devine why they have killed hnau. Weston and Devine look around, unable to see any hint of Oyarsa. They mutter in English that one of the creatures assembled is using ventriloquism to pretend to be some tribal god. Weston approaches an elderly hross who has closed his eyes in a small nap, then yells in the hross’s face that the humans are not afraid of their tricks and idols. Weston’s hrossan language skills are very poor, and he looks idiotic to the audience of Malacandrians, and to Ransom.
Weston and Devine refuse to believe that the Malacandrians could be anything but primitive, but their prejudice only makes them seem more pitiable and “savage” themselves. Lewis shows this through Weston’s inability to even speak the hrossan language. Weston is so convinced that humans are the greatest species that he never even considers that there may be authorities above men.
Themes
Civilization and Utopia Theme Icon
Human Nature and Morality Theme Icon
Acceptance and Curiosity vs. Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
Oyarsa speaks again, asking Weston why he has killed a hnau. Weston continues to direct his answers to the sleeping elderly hross, saying that the humans are powerful enough to kill anyone they wish and dangling a gold necklace in front of the hross guards as a bribe to set him free. Ransom is disgusted to hear how primitive and stupid his fellow humans sound. The audience of Malacandrians begins to laugh, scaring Weston with their loud cries. When the laughter dies down, Weston tries again to offer the necklace to the hross, sparking another round of laughter as Weston jerks and dances around in confusion.
Rather than remaining blindly loyal to the human race, Ransom has completely changed his perspective on who is the true power in the universe. He rejects the idea that human kind should rule other kinds of beings. Weston’s rigid belief in the primacy of mankind again makes him look ridiculous. Lewis ironically makes Weston act like the stereotypical savage, with a strange dance and broken language skills.
Themes
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Human Nature and Morality Theme Icon
Unable to take the humiliation of humanity any longer, Ransom tells Weston to stop. Weston ignores Ransom, whispering to Devine about the possibility of giving the necklace directly to the sleeping hross, who Weston has decided is a witch doctor. Weston drapes the necklace over the sleeping hross’s head. Oyarsa asks Ransom quietly if his fellow humans are out of their minds with fear, and Ransom explains that his countrymen believe that the Malacandrians are like young cubs, able to be frightened and pleased with shiny objects.
Oyarsa again ties Weston’s awful behavior back to fear. While Weston is arrogant, he is fundamentally insecure about humankind’s place in the universe and therefore lashes out at anything that tries to control him or show him a better way of life. It is easier for Weston to think of the Malacandrians as simpletons because then he does not have to re-evaluate his own perspectives on the world.
Themes
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Acceptance and Curiosity vs. Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
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Ransom explains to Weston in English that there is no witch-doctor, and the voice they are hearing comes from a real being that humans cannot see. Ransom tries to get Weston to treat Oyarsa with respect, but Weston believes that Ransom has been brainwashed by the Malacandrians. Weston yells in his broken hrossan language at the sleeping hross, trying to blame Ransom for the death of Hyoi. The sleeping hross finally wakes, regarding Weston with confusion, then bows to Oyarsa and walks out of the assembly. Weston is astounded when Oyarsa speaks again, now that the hross he believed had been speaking is gone.
Weston would rather believe that Ransom is a traitor than trust that the Malacandrians are telling the truth. As Weston has lied to and about Ransom, Weston now believes that Ransom is lying to him. Lewis shows how humans often believe the worst of other people, showing their own tendency towards manipulating and harming others. Weston is willing to blame anyone else to preserve his own life and sense of superiority.
Themes
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Oyarsa sees that Weston will not be convinced through calm conversation, and directs one of the pfifltrigg to take Weston to a guest house and bathe him in cold water until Weston is more cooperative. Weston screams at Ransom for help as he is dragged away by the pfifltrigg and a few hrossa guards. Oyarsa ignores this, turning to give proper reverence to the dead hrossa at his feet.
While Oyarsa does always work for his citizens’ good, that does not mean that he is always gentle or passive when it comes to showing the hnau the right path. Weston needs to be scared straight for his own good, and Oyarsa does not hesitate to use strong force when circumstances require it. This echoes Biblical ideas of angels as forces for good that are still sometimes terrifying to humans.
Themes
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The hrossa in the stone circle all begin to sing, and Ransom is finally able to appreciate the strange hrossan music. He feels the presence of heaven and is deeply moved by the hrossa’s song of eternal sorrow, healing, and the better world to which their fallen friends are traveling. Oyarsa calls forward a pfifltrigg to “scatter” the dead bodies of the three hrossa. The pfifltrigg touches the bodies with an unknown object, causing a blinding light and a strong wind. When Ransom can see again, the hrossa bodies are gone. Devine chuckles that murderers on Earth would love to dispose of bodies so easily, and Ransom ignores him as Weston is brought back.
Now that Ransom is no longer afraid or judgmental of the hrossa, he can appreciate their music, even though it follows patterns different from the music of Earth. Because the hrossa trust in Oyarsa and the promise of going to be with Maleldil, death is not quite the tragedy for them it is among humans. The hrossa better understand what heaven is really like, and are ready to accept that world even if they are sad to say goodbye to their friends prematurely. Devine still remains solely focused on material gain, only seeing the most base and selfish potential for the wonderful Malacandrian technology.
Themes
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Civilization and Utopia Theme Icon
Human Nature and Morality Theme Icon
Acceptance and Curiosity vs. Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon