Out of the Silent Planet

Out of the Silent Planet Chapter 20 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The hross guarding Weston tells Oyarsa that they doused Weston’s head with cold water 14 times and Weston now seems ready to speak. Weston tries to put on an expression of great nobility in the face of his “attackers.” Devine warns Weston in English to be careful, considering that the Malacandrians have technology to make bodies disappear, and Weston accuses Devine of having “gone native” as well.
While Weston has been treated roughly, the harsh behavior of the Malacandrians is only in response to his own belligerence and exploitation of this world. Weston has now separated himself from all his human companions, thinking of himself as the last guard of civilization on this planet. He accuses Devine of “going native,” recalling accounts of Englishmen who realized the intelligence or value of tribal societies on Earth but were then ostracized by their “civilized” colonialist peers.
Themes
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Oyarsa tells Weston to be quiet, and then explains to Weston that it has been Weston’s own fear that has caused the darkness and pain of Weston’s time in Malacandra. Oyarsa scolds Weston for his willingness to betray Ransom, a fellow human being, to protect his own life. Oyarsa tells Weston that the Bent One has clearly done much harm on Earth, and that Weston deserves to die for his crimes, but that Oyarsa will hear out Weston’s side of the story first.
Weston would have been welcomed and accepted on Malacandra if he had not sought to hurt and exploit the Malacandrians at every turn. The Malacandrians must now protect themselves and the others that Weston has harmed due to his sinful nature (which, according to this cosmology, the Bent One caused in all humans).
Themes
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Acceptance and Curiosity vs. Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
Weston tries to yell at the direction from which he hears Oyarsa’s voice like he yelled at the elderly hross. Devine jumps in, explaining in his own broken Hross that the humans just want gold and will go away if Oyarsa gives them the gold they want. Oyarsa shushes Devine and invites Weston to speak again, but Weston is too frustrated by his lack of Malacandrian language. Oyarsa tells Weston that Ransom will translate from English.
Devine cares for nothing but keeping himself alive and getting as much gold as possible, and seems willing to grovel to what he thinks are false gods if he gets what he wants. Oyarsa has no respect for this viewpoint, but does seem interested in Weston’s more complex and pseudo-moral justification for his own poor behavior.
Themes
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Weston begins a grand speech about the greatness of human civilization compared to the stone age tools of Malacandra, and explains that humans have the duty to spread their superior ways throughout the universe no matter the dictates of morality. Humans must do anything they must to preserve their civilization forever. Ransom translates this into basic Malacandrian, stripping the words of their pompous air and explaining only that Weston believes that humans are greater than any other species and that Weston selfishly wants all planets for mankind. Weston ends with a triumphant claim that his own life does not matter as long as the human race continues, which Ransom translates as Weston’s insane desire for humans to continue. Weston then looks around for applause, seeming confused when he is met with silence.
Lewis makes it clear through the translation of Weston’s speech that the ideals of civilization are not actually as good as Weston makes them sound. Furthermore, humanity’s duty is not to survive forever, but to choose to do what is right while they are living and accept death when their time comes. Weston echoes other science fiction novels that laud the principles of natural selection and the strength of men who fight to survive no matter what, and in his fancy language these goals sound noble. Yet in the simple Malacandrian, the roots of these goals are revealed as the deluded musings of a seriously misguided society. Weston is clearly used to being able to dazzle people into doing what he wants through his intelligence, but he does not have that power on the perfect world of Malacandra.
Themes
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Oyarsa considers Weston’s words, commending him for thinking of future humans rather than just himself. Yet Oyarsa points out that humans would have to change physically to survive on other planets and that Weston should therefore be more accepting of rational beings with bodies that look different. Furthermore, Oyarsa exposes Weston’s hypocrisy in his willingness to kill Ransom, when he claims to care about all humans. When Ransom translates Oyarsa’s words, Weston sputters that he is loyal to humanity itself, and Oyarsa realizes that the Bent One has done his work on Earth by convincing humans that this is the one natural law that matters, when really loyalty to one’s own kind is a small part of the larger morality of the universe.
Oyarsa does acknowledge that the seed of Weston’s grand mission – caring for the survival of one’s own kind – is a good and correct pursuit. Yet Oyarsa shows the many holes in Weston’s theory that he is working for the good of others, when Weston has clearly chosen again and again only to save himself. This base selfishness comes from the twisted influence of the Bent One, who uses the front of “the good of humanity” to hide many evils and distract from goals that are actually more important than saving the human race. Humans are a small part of the universe and should listen to the authority of the eldila and Maleldil instead of caring only for themselves.
Themes
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Oyarsa proclaims Weston “bent,” for Weston still keeps one law of the hnau, unlike Devine who is “broken,” driven only by animal greed. Oyarsa tries to help cure Weston’s soul by explaining that no species, or planet, can live forever. Malacandra is indeed closer to death than Earth and will soon be given lovingly back to Maleldil. Oyarsa reminds Weston that the Malacandrians did not invade Earth when their own harandras became uninhabitable. Maleldil has assured that the Malacandrians do not fear death, while the Bent One keeps that fear alive on Earth so that humans will suffer. Weston snarls that he is on the Bent One’s side then, rather than standing with those who quietly give up to death. Oyarsa sees that Weston is past curing.
Weston still has the capacity for some moral code, however erroneous his understanding is, while Devine is no better than an animal that no longer understands right and wrong or good and evil. Still, Weston is not as smart as he thinks he is. Human intelligence only goes so far, Lewis shows, though Weston does not respect the orders of those who are greater than him. Weston chooses to continue living in his sin and his fear of death rather than accepting the new perspective that Oyarsa offers. Through this Lewis points out that God cannot help those who reject him.
Themes
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Oyarsa proclaims that Weston and Devine must leave Malacandra tomorrow. Weston sputters that the timing for a return flight to Earth is all wrong, as they are in the far point of Malacandra’s orbit. Oyarsa answers that he will be forced to kill the humans if they stay here, counseling Weston to figure out how to take advantage of this chance at survival. After hearing Weston’s calculations, Oyarsa promises to provide them with 90 days-worth of oxygen and supplies, then informs Weston and Devine that he will fix it so that their spaceship will disappear (like the bodies of the dead hrossa) after 90 days so that humans can never again return to Malacandra.
Oyarsa clearly has compassion for the humans, as they are not fully in control of their sinful nature, but he cannot allow these humans to poison his utopia. Oyarsa gives Weston and Devine the best possible chance of survival, but these two men do have to suffer the consequences of their own actions.
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