C. S. Lewis

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Perelandra: Chapter 3 Summary & Analysis

Ransom never says much about his journey to Perelandra, only revealing that his experiences were not too vague for words, but rather too definite for words. Eventually, Ransom becomes conscious of falling rapidly into a warm, golden twilight, then entering a green-tinted darkness and beginning to move upward again. Suddenly he realizes that the casket has dissolved. As he struggles to get his bearings, Ransom soon discovers that he’s been unconsciously swimming, moving through a green, subtropical ocean. Its water is deliciously drinkable. There’s no land in sight.
Ransom suggests that, while otherworldly experiences are sometimes described as ineffable, they’re actually too concrete to be explained. By using space exploration to illustrate his spiritual ideas, then, he suggests that heavenly  realities are quite tangible, not vague. This is further shown by the strong sensory experiences Ransom undergoes as soon as he surfaces on Perelandra: rich colors, warmth, and quenching waters.
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Riding the waves of this ocean and savoring its muted, green and gold light is a pleasant experience. In fact, this world as a whole seems to be filled with a rich sensory pleasure that, on Earth, Ransom would normally associate with a feeling of guilt. Here, though, there’s no sense of excess. A thick rain begins to fall, but there’s still no land in sight, and Ransom feels a little frightened for the first time.
On Earth, such intense pleasure might be associated with too much indulgence. But on Perelandra, these sensations seem just right. This suggests that Perelandra is a place that’s not corrupted by malformed desires (sin). Even though Ransom is a human being and is thus inclined to sin, the innocent atmosphere impacts his senses.
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Related Quotes
As the rain and waves subside, Ransom, exhausted, notices something like a floating island and swims toward it. Grabbing a trailing vine, he manages to pull himself onto its surface and finds, to his relief, that it supports him. After resting awhile on the mattress-like surface, Ransom explores the strange floating country, its contours constantly changing with the waves. He spends a couple of hours teaching himself to balance and walk, falling often.
In this strange new world, seemingly made up of floating land, Ransom has to relearn the basic functions of survival, like standing and walking. All his normal reference points are missing, and an attitude of wonder—coupled with a willingness to learn—is key to navigating his environment.
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Eventually Ransom reaches a kind of forest, whose rich scent prompts an almost enjoyable hunger and thirst, making breathing itself a wondrous experience. At one point, he plucks and accidently punctures a balloon-like yellow fruit. When he samples its juice, he soon empties it, finding a new depth of pleasure in the indescribable taste. He considers drinking another, but he finds there’s no need—it would be “like asking to hear the same symphony twice in a day.” As Perelandra settles into an impenetrable darkness, Ransom falls into a comfortable sleep.
On Perelandra, even normal human cravings don’t seem to carry the same sense of emptiness and insecurity that they do on Earth. In such an apparently innocent world, just to exist and experience one’s environment is satisfying. And pleasures are so thoroughly satisfying that they don’t require an encore. Again, this contrasts with life on Earth, where the temptation to overindulge can mar even good desires.
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
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