As a child, Psyche dreams of one day living in a palace on the Grey Mountain, which she later sees as a sign that she has always been destined to go there as a sacrifice. The palace additionally represents the cloud of mystery in which the gods exist, which makes up the center of Orual’s accusation against them. She feels that if only they spoke more clearly to mortals, mortals wouldn’t make the sorts of mistakes that anger the gods. Specifically, if they had allowed her to see Psyche’s palace, she wouldn’t have had to guess whether or not Psyche’s story was true, and she wouldn’t have made Psyche look at the god’s face. The palace and its invisibility represent the conflict between mortal and divine, between provable reality and holy mystery.
Additionally, the palace represents Orual’s unconscious desire to hurt Psyche. Although she tries to ignore it, Orual does in fact see the palace. She tries to convince herself it might have been the result of drowsiness or the mist, but she does see it, and willfully refuses to believe Psyche anyway. The fact that Orual never tells anyone about her vision of the palace proves that on some level, she knows she’s at fault for ignoring it.
The Palace on the Mountain Quotes in Till We Have Faces
I must lie on the steps at the great gate of that house and make my petition. I must ask forgiveness of Psyche as well as of the god. I had dared to scold her (dared, what was worse, to try to comfort her as a child) but all the time she was far above me; herself now hardly mortal.... if what I saw was real. I was in great fear. Perhaps it was not real.... Then as I rose... the whole thing was vanished.
For if the true story had been like their story, no riddle would have been set me; there would have been no guessing and no guessing wrong. More than that, it’s a story belonging to a different world, a world in which the gods show themselves clearly and don’t torment men with glimpses, nor unveil to one what they hide from another, nor ask you to believe what contradicts your eyes and ears and nose and tongue and fingers.