Out of the Silent Planet


C. S. Lewis

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Out of the Silent Planet: Chapter 8 Summary & Analysis

Ransom gives up on running, but keeps walking through the forest as fast as possible. Ransom thinks about the white shapes, which must have been the sorns that wanted him as sacrifice. The sorns are different from the ogre-ish monsters that Ransom expected, but still appeal to a deep-seated primitive fear in his brain. Ransom clutches his knife, praying and hoping he has the strength to fight back when the time comes.
While Ransom has now seen the sorns and understands that they are not the monsters he imagined, they are still strange enough to waken Ransom’s deep-seated fear of the unknown. Ransom channels this fear into violence, imagining himself hurting the sorns before they can hurt him, though the sorns have not yet given him any indication that they are actually dangerous.
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Ransom keeps walking, easily crossing several steep ridges. Ransom reflects on how everything on Malacandra seems elongated and thinks that this extreme height must be possible since this planet is lighter than Earth and feels the effects of gravity less. Ransom tries to remember which planets are smaller than Earth, thinking that he might be on Venus, Mars, or even the moon.
Lewis comments on the vertical theme of all life forms and landscape features on Malacandra, subtly hinting that everything on Malacandra is closer to the beautiful life of the heavens than anything on Earth, while also giving a scientific explanation for the strangeness of this new world. Ransom ties this strange world to the known solar system, making it more relatable to readers’ lives on Earth.
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Night begins to fall and Ransom notices that the streams in the bottom of many of the gullies are warmer than the forest. Wary of the cold and the dangers that might appear in the forest at night, Ransom decides to find a place to sleep. He walks down another steep gully and finds a hot spring. He is thirsty but doesn’t want to risk drinking this alien water. He lays down next to the stream, feeling an intense love for his own body and thinking wistfully of all the men on Earth who get a safe, comfortable bed. He mumbles to himself, “We’ll look after you, Ransom,” then falls asleep.
Ransom still does not trust anything on Malacandra, fearing the forest even though he has not come across anything dangerous yet, and assuming that the water will be poisonous simply because it doesn’t look like water on Earth. On this strange planet, Ransom is more aware of himself as a human, getting in touch with his body and his basic nature, as well as talking about himself in the plural, suggesting that his human body is a separate entity from his mind.
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