Out of the Silent Planet

Out of the Silent Planet Chapter 5 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Ransom tries to get more information about Malacandra from Devine, who is far more talkative than Weston, but Devine usually talks only of the things he wants to buy when he gets back to Earth. The only thing Devine will say about Ransom’s role on this mission is that they are “handing him the baby” – that is, giving Ransom the blame for some unknown crime.
Devine seems to care only for his own pleasure. Unlike Weston, he does not have a higher moral explanation for his actions. Devine simply wants to be as wealthy and comfortable as possible and he doesn’t care who he hurts on the way towards that goal.
Themes
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Though he expects to be afraid of space, Ransom finds that he can’t feel anything but wonderful while meditating on the gorgeous views outside the ship. All the planets, constellations, and meteorites in the heavens are far more beautiful than Ransom ever dreamed. Ransom finds that he can spend hours just staring in awe out the space ship windows. Weston and Devine explain this feeling away, claiming that the incredible feelings of health are simply from solar rays that do not reach through Earth’s atmosphere.
Ransom subverts his own expectations by feeling incredibly happy in space, instead of depressed and scared. As Ransom is no longer consumed by fear, he can fully appreciate how beautiful this place is. Meanwhile, Weston and Devine refuse to see the larger implications of Ransom’s discovery, or the layer of spiritual wellness that accompanies their physical wellness.
Themes
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Acceptance and Curiosity vs. Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
Ransom eventually rejects the modern scientific image of space as a cold, empty void. It seems blasphemous to him to think of space as dead when everything is so radiant here. Ransom finds himself thinking back to older, wiser philosophers who called this area the heavens that “declare the glory.” He quotes Milton to himself and basks in the sun’s light as much as he can.
All the visions of space that Ransom had on Earth are proven to be wrong, to the point where Ransom rejects science – the pinnacle of human progress – and goes back to older sources of knowledge about the goodness of the heavens. One of these sources is hinted to be the Bible, as Lewis quotes part of a verse from Psalm 19 when talking about the glory of the heavens. Lewis also includes a quote from Milton, most famous for his Christian epic Paradise Lost. Lewis therefore starts to introduce elements of Christian thought into this new science fiction world.
Themes
Christian Imagery and Thought  Theme Icon
Human Nature and Morality Theme Icon
Acceptance and Curiosity vs. Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
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Ransom takes over cooking on the ship. One night, while washing up the dinner dishes, he overhears Devine’s side of a conversation with Weston, who assumes that Ransom has gone to bed. Ransom is chilled to the bone as Devine argues with Weston about how they should hand over Ransom to a “sorn” and what the purpose of Ransom’s sacrifice may be to this tribal society. Weston seems to be having second thoughts, but Devine assures Weston that they are giving Ransom up for the best of reasons.
Weston and Devine care only about themselves, as shown by their willingness to offer Ransom as “ransom” for their success on Malacandra. Significantly, the more moral Weston is having second thoughts while the pleasure-seeking Devine tries to convince Weston to stay the course, suggesting that Devine is actually more dismissive of other human lives than Weston is.
Themes
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Ransom creeps back to his room, dreading the descent from the heavens to face becoming a human sacrifice for the horrible monster that he imagines the “sorns” must be. Thinking of H.G. Wells’ novels, he imagines all sorts of terrible creatures, and then decides that he would rather find a way to commit suicide than be given to the sorns – even if he is a pious man who believes suicide to be a sin. He creeps back to the kitchen and steals a knife, then falls into a deep fear-induced sleep.
Ransom’s name calls to mind the sacrifices of pagan faiths, but also the sacrifice of Christ himself, who paid the “ransom” for humanity’s sins. This suggests that Ransom is in some way both an “everyman” and a Christ-figure, while his status as an alien sacrifice implies that he is going back to a primitive society that does not understand the lessons of “civilization.” Ransom fears the sorns even though he knows nothing about them, proving that it is the very fact that they are unknown that he fears. Lewis here references piety, hinting at one version of Christianity in the novel that may have to grow and expand through this journey. Note also that Lewis mentions H.G. Wells, linking his work to other early science fiction writers.
Themes
Christian Imagery and Thought  Theme Icon
Civilization and Utopia Theme Icon
Human Nature and Morality Theme Icon
Acceptance and Curiosity vs. Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
Related Quotes