Perelandra

by

C. S. Lewis

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Perelandra: Chapter 6 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Even after the Green Lady leaves, Ransom continues to feel the weight of someone else’s presence, as he’d first noticed during their conversation. When Ransom tries to resist that weight, it feels like a burden. When he gives himself up to it, however, it’s no longer burdensome but a nourishing presence that seems to carry him. Gradually, he learns to yield to the presence instead of fighting it.
Ransom’s experience of Maleldil’s presence differs from the Green Lady’s in that Ransom, unlike her, has an ingrained reflex of trying to resist Maleldil’s will. His experience suggests that human beings bring unnecessary burdens upon themselves through resistance, rather than yielding themselves to God’s care.
Themes
Fear, Adventure, and Will Theme Icon
The island on which Ransom is floating is drifting near a large, craggy, mountainous piece of land—fixed land, he realizes. He longs to explore it. The next day, he and the Green Lady discuss the Fixed Land. The Lady is shocked to hear that on Earth, all the lands are fixed. She thinks for a while and then explains that Maleldil has bidden her and the King never to sleep on the Fixed Land, though they may walk on it. This means that there are different laws in different worlds.
The prohibition of sleeping on the Fixed Land can be compared to God’s command, in the Old Testament Book of Genesis, that Adam and Ever are not to eat fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. At this point, it isn’t clear what the reason is for this law about not sleeping on the fixed land, if indeed there is a reason.
Themes
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
The Green Lady feels overwhelmed by the knowledge that goodness is not the same in all worlds. And Maleldil has not told her why he forbids things on Perelandra that he does not forbid on Earth. It makes her feel as though her life had previously been the stem of a tree, whose branches are now shooting widely in every direction. But for her, it’s no hardship to obey Maleldil, because “all His biddings are joys.”
Right now, the Green Lady doesn’t feel the need to inquire into Maleldil’s reasons. To her trusting disposition, both Maleldil’s biddings and his forbiddings are all reflections of his own goodness. This suggests that, to Lewis, innocence resides in trusting God’s character above all else.
Themes
Fear, Adventure, and Will Theme Icon
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Their conversation is disrupted by something streaking noisily across the sky and falling into the sea. The Green Lady observes this with wonder, but she isn’t distracted from her purpose: she is searching for the King. She proposes that they visit the Fixed Land in search of him and summons the silver fishes to carry them there. Ransom copies her in mounting and riding a fish, and the rest of the fish follow them.
Something has invaded Perelandra, though at this point, that’s not in itself a sign of anything either good or bad. The Green Lady has a childlike ability to remain single-minded in her desires and focus, another sign of her innocent nature.
Themes
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Fear, Adventure, and Will Theme Icon
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
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They reach the Fixed Land, and Ransom is delighted to find it similar to the terrestrial world he knows, including a deep valley, Earth-like trees, and a stream. They walk to the top of the valley, and Ransom finds fluffy, black-dotted creatures called Piebalds—the Green Lady named him after them. They climb onto a rocky promontory, but the Lady scales it much more gracefully and deftly than Ransom, who scrapes his knee. The Lady, fascinated by the concept of blood, wants to try scraping her own knee, but Maleldil tells her not to.
Injury is a feature of life in a world that’s corrupted by sin and death. In Lewis’s view, an incorrupt world would be free of even minor injuries. The Green Lady doesn’t associate blood with pain and suffering and regards the concept with simple curiosity, but Maleldil puts a stop to even this relatively harmless loss of innocence.
Themes
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
From the top of the island, Ransom and the Green Lady examine the sea and the surrounding islands. A couple of miles away, they spot a small round object. Ransom recalls seeing something like it before. Previously, Ransom had visited Mars. He’d been kidnapped by men who thought that Mars’s rulers would demand a human sacrifice. Of course Mars’s Oyarsa wanted nothing of the kind, but Professor Weston, Ransom’s main captor, had a less benign nature.
Weston, a physicist who wanted to colonize Mars, was the main antagonist in Out of the Silent Planet, the first volume of Lewis’s Space Trilogy. A believer in human superiority who cared nothing for Malacandra’s creatures, he poses an immediate threat to this world’s unscathed innocence.
Themes
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
Weston is obsessed with modern ideas of “scientifiction,” chiefly that humanity needs to spread itself over an ever broader area. This desire is fueled by a dread of death, and it doesn’t mind destroying or enslaving other species in the effort to escape mortality.
“Scientifiction” is an archaic term for science fiction. Coined by sci-fi publisher Hugo Gernsback in 1926, the term was displaced by “science fiction” over the course of the 1930s. Lewis is a bit of an outlier for using it when he wrote the Space Trilogy in the 1940s. In any case, Lewis portrays Weston as a representative of what he critiques as science fiction’s inherent flaws.
Themes
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Ransom realizes this is why he was sent to Perelandra. Weston failed to achieve his goals on Malacandra, so he’s trying again here. Ransom wonders if, like Malacandra, Perelandra’s eldila might help him foil Weston. He asks the Green Lady about them. The Green Lady listens to Maleldil’s gentle counsel and then explains: in Perelandra, the first world to awaken after “the great change,” the eldila do not exercise the same kind of power that they did on Mars. In other words, on Perelandra, there’s nothing between rational creatures and God. It has been the joy of the eldila to decrease so that “things of the low worlds” may increase.
At last, Ransom perceives why he was sent to Perelandra, although he doesn’t yet know exactly how he’ll achieve that—especially since the eldila don’t occupy the same role here as they did on Malacandra. Malacandra was an older world; on the younger Perelandra—which arose after God’s incarnation as man on earth (what the Lady calls “the great change”)—there are no intermediary beings between reason-possessing creatures and Maleldil. In other words, angelic help won’t be forthcoming.
Themes
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
Ransom tells the Green Lady that, in his world, an eldil didn’t consider it joyful but instead clung to the older way rather than welcoming the new. But there isn’t time to explain. They watch as a little boat detaches from the spaceship below. At the same time, the sea begins to rise, and the Lady wishes to greet the newcomer before she must leave the island for the night. Ransom rushes past her, not wanting her and Weston to meet. But the Lady is fast and strong enough that she’s never more than a pace or two behind him. When he reaches the beach, he shouts, “Go back!” at the Lady, but he’s too late. Behind him, Weston’s voice asks, “What is the meaning of this?”
Ransom’s comment means that on Earth, Satan and demons oppressed human beings rather than being willingly subjected to them and to God. Though Ransom doesn’t yet know why, he senses that Weston’s meeting with the Lady risks exposing her to such diabolical influence and thereby corrupting Perelandra forever.
Themes
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon