C. S. Lewis

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Waves Symbol Icon

In the novel, waves symbolize the things which Maleldil (God) sends to his creatures—for instance, certain situations, people, or events. The Green Lady often speaks of plunging into the waves, or swimming along with them, as a way of describing the harmony between her will and Maleldil’s will. This harmony rests on the belief that whatever Maleldil sends is good and reflective of his own goodness. To “reject the wave” would be to resist what Maleldil sends, instead pursuing one’s path apart from Maleldil’s will—in other words, sin.

Waves Quotes in Perelandra

The Perelandra quotes below all refer to the symbol of Waves. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Scribner edition of Perelandra published in 2003.
Chapter 5 Quotes

"And do you," said Ransom with some hesitation—"and do you know why He came thus to my world?"

All through this part of the conversation he found it difficult to look higher than her feet, so that her answer was merely a voice in the air above him. "Yes," said the voice. "I know the reason. But it is not the reason you know. There was more than one reason, and there is one I know and cannot tell to you, and another that you know and cannot tell to me."

Related Characters: Dr. Elwin Ransom (speaker), The Green Lady/The Queen/Tinidril (speaker), Lewis (speaker), Maleldil
Related Symbols: Waves
Page Number: 54
Explanation and Analysis:

“I thought,” she said, "that I was carried in the will of Him I love, but now I see that I walk with it. I thought that the good things He sent me drew me into them as the waves lift the islands; but now I see that it is I who plunge into them with my own legs and arms, as when we go swimming. […] It is a delight with terror in it! One's own self to be walking from one good to another, walking beside Him as Himself may walk, not even holding hands.”

Related Characters: The Green Lady/The Queen/Tinidril (speaker), Lewis (speaker), Dr. Elwin Ransom, Maleldil
Related Symbols: Waves
Page Number: 60
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 9 Quotes

"And will you teach us Death?" said the Lady to Weston's shape, where it stood above her.

"Yes," it said, "it is for this that I came here, that you may have Death in abundance. But you must be very courageous."

"Courageous. What is that?"

"It is what makes you to swim on a day when the waves are so great and swift that something inside you bids you to stay on land."

"I know. And those are the best days of all for swimming."

"Yes. But to find Death, and with Death the real oldness and the strong beauty and the uttermost branching out, you must plunge into things greater than waves."

Related Symbols: Waves
Page Number: 98
Explanation and Analysis:

"Your deepest will, at present, is to obey Him […] The way out of that is hard. It was made hard that only the very great, the very wise, the very courageous should dare to walk in it, to go on—on out of this smallness in which you now live—through the dark wave of His forbidding, into the real life, Deep Life, with all its joy and splendour and hardness."

"Listen, Lady," said Ransom. "There is something he is not telling you. […] Long ago, when our world began, there was only one man and one woman in it, as you and the King are in this. And there once before he stood, as he stands now, talking to the woman. […] And she listened, and did the thing Maleldil had forbidden her to do. But no joy and splendour came of it.”

Related Symbols: Waves
Page Number: 102
Explanation and Analysis:
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Waves Symbol Timeline in Perelandra

The timeline below shows where the symbol Waves appears in Perelandra. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Riding the waves of this ocean and savoring its muted, green and gold light is a pleasant experience.... (full context)
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
As the rain and waves subside, Ransom, exhausted, notices something like a floating island and swims toward it. Grabbing a... (full context)
Chapter 4
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
...that the other human-like figure might see him while he’s on the crest of a wave, silhouetted against the sky. Eventually, this works—he waves while riding a crest, and he spots... (full context)
Chapter 5
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Fear, Adventure, and Will Theme Icon
...change appearance as they approach, while they are here, and when they are past—much like waves. She nicknames Ransom “Piebald.” (full context)
Chapter 9
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
...the Lady from getting any older. He says that Ransom “always shrinks back from the wave that is coming” and would prefer to “bring back the wave that is past.” He... (full context)
Chapter 13
Fear, Adventure, and Will Theme Icon
As the waves begin to pick up, Weston panics. They’re approaching a rocky coast, and he’s terrified that... (full context)
Chapter 17
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
...only reason she ever desired to live there was because she wished to “reject the wave”—to determine her own course instead of accepting what Maleldil sent. The King adds that now... (full context)