Chapters 11-14
Chapters 11-14 E-mail

The Great Divorce

1.  What is the difference between desiring God as a means to an end and desiring God for his own sake?  Which is more characteristic of your life?

2.  What do you think about the discussion of lust and maternal love at the end of chapter 11?  Consider the following line from Lewis's The Four Loves: "Natural loves that are allowed to become gods do not remain loves.  They are still called so, but can become in fact complicated forms of hatred."

3.  In chapter 11, one Ghost makes the choice to remain in Heaven.  What had to happen first?  Compare this to Jesus' statements in John 12:24 and Matthew 10:39 and Paul's in 1 Corinthians 15:36.  What excuses did the Ghost make? 

4.  What is Lewis trying to illustrate through the relationship between the dwarf Frank and the Tragedian?

5.  What did Frank/the Tragedian attempt to elicit from Sarah Smith?  What was her response?

6.  How does Lewis resolve the question of whether those who reject God are able to spoil the joy of those who follow him? 

7.  Lewis distinguishes two kinds of pity in chapter 13.  How does evil use pity?  How does good use it?

8.  How would you resolve the question the narrator poses to MacDonald, the Teacher, in chapter 13: "Is it really tolerable that she should be untouched by his misery, even his self-made misery?"

9.  Which ghost(s) do you most identify with?  What hinders you from experiencing all that God has for you in Jesus Christ?  Take time to meditate on Philippians 3:7-14 and Luke 18:18-30.

10.  Re-read the Preface.  What was Lewis's objective in writing this novel?  Do you think he achieved it?


"A thousand liveried angels lackey her.": from Milton's Comus, line 453

"Dog in a Manger":  from Aesop's fables where a dog slept in a manger and prevented the cattle from eating their hay, even though the dog was not able to eat it.  The moral refers to spitefully keeping someone else from enjoying what you have no use for.

midden:  a dunghill or dump for kitchen waste.  The word is still used in Scotland to refer to any sort of mess.

"In your own books, Sir," said I, "you were a Universalist.": One of George MacDonald's controversial beliefs was Universalism, the idea that everyone would eventually go to heaven.  Lewis disagreed with MacDonald on this point for reasons best articulated in chapter 8 of The Problem of Pain.  Nevertheless, Lewis admired MacDonald's spiritual wisdom immensely.

Swedenborgs: refers to followers of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772).  A Swedish scientist, who later in life experienced spiritual visions.  He claimed he could visit heaven and hell and speak with the angels and spirits.

Lady Julian aka Julian of Norwich (1343-1413):  English mystic who lived as a Benedictine nun and wrote Revelations of Divine Love.  Considered the first great female writer in the English language.

Vale Owens probably refers to Rev. George Vale Owen (1869-1931):  the vicar of Orford, Lancashire who claimed he received and wrote down messages from spirits.  These were published as The Life Beyond the Veil in 1921, with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle writing the introduction.

© 2009 by Allyson Wieland