Out of the Silent Planet

Out of the Silent Planet Chapter 2 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Ransom comes in to Weston and Devine’s sitting room, remembering again how little he liked Devine at school. Everyone at Wedenshaw and Cambridge thought Devine was hopelessly boring, even if he was inexplicably successful in London after graduation. Devine himself interrupts Ransom’s thoughts, bringing in a tray with a bottle and glasses for whiskey.
Society in London allows people like Devine, who do not actually have anything of substance to offer the world, to become incredibly wealthy. Lewis sees this as another failing of civilized life, that it rewards men for fitting in and playing the system rather than being truly productive.
Themes
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Ransom gratefully waits to be handed a drink, but Devine gets distracted asking why Ransom is in this part of the country. Ransom explains that he is on a walking-tour. Devine asks if Ransom picked up the habit from his time in the army, but Ransom replies that the walking tour is the exact opposite of the army: Ransom can make his own choices about where to go that do not need to consider anyone but himself. Ransom says he has specifically left no forwarding address so that no one can find him and call him back to his place as a don at Cambridge before he is ready.
At this point, Ransom is without direction and without a community, making him somewhat purposeless on his walking tour. Ransom seems as if he is enjoying not knowing where to go or having anyone to answer to, but this meandering state is also dangerous. Devine and Weston can kidnap Ransom and use him for their purposes precisely because Ransom has no aims and no real connections to others.
Themes
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Devine suddenly notices that the whiskey bottle is empty and gets Ransom a glass of water. They sit in two expensive chairs in the sitting room. Ransom asks why Devine has a house in this rural area. Devine explains that he is funding Weston’s experiments, which promise to further the march of progress and the good of humanity. As Devine speaks, Ransom finds himself unable to focus and then has the strange feeling that Devine is actually sitting a mile away. Ransom’s body goes numb and the room fades away.
Devine’s speech about universal progress and humanity as a kind of “force” foreshadows darker things to come—clearly he and Weston believe that the ends justify the means, and are rationalizing the unethical things they do in the name of “the greater good.” Lewis was very critical of beliefs like these, and brings them up in other works as well.
Themes
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Ransom has what he thinks is a dream, but the narrator explains that it might have bearing on future events in the novel. Ransom dreams that he, Weston, and Devine are trying to climb over a wall to get out of a bright, pretty garden. Ransom fears the darkness on the other side of the wall, but Weston insists that they must go. Peeking over the wall, Ransom sees Weston and Devine talking to very strange looking people. The strange people say “hoo” like owls. Ransom makes it to the top of the wall, then stops because his left leg feels “dark” outside the garden, and his right leg feels “light” inside the garden.
In Ransom’s dream, he seems to take a journey of some sort out of a beautiful garden into darkness. The garden connects to Lewis’s Christian beliefs about perfection in the Garden of Eden, the original paradise meant for humans until the devil tempted them to sin. Weston and Devine insist on going into the darkness, hinting that they welcome this fall into sin and will later force Ransom into situations where he is afraid of doing the wrong (that is, “dark”) thing.
Themes
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Acceptance and Curiosity vs. Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
Related Quotes
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Ransom regains consciousness and realizes he has been drugged. Over Ransom’s head, Devine tells Weston that Ransom will “do quite as well as the boy.” Weston says he is reluctant to substitute Ransom for Harry, as Ransom feels more human, but finally agrees that Ransom carries a lower risk of people looking for him when he disappears. Ransom realizes this might be his one chance to escape and flings himself toward the door. He struggles more violently than he thought possible, but falls unconscious again after a blow to the head.
Weston and Devine debate the relative “humanity” of others, dismissing the autonomy of Harry and Ransom based on what they believe counts as a human with rights and value. They apparently have no sympathy for Ransom and no scruples about drugging and kidnapping him, though on the outside they appear as upstanding members of society, and even talk about lofty ideals for humanity as a whole.
Themes
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Human Nature and Morality Theme Icon