Chapters 9-10
Chapters 9-10 E-mail

The Great Divorce


1.  Chapter 9 is a meaty section where the narrator (presumably Lewis) asks the Teacher a series of questions about heaven.  Some are listed below.  Which question and response most captured your attention and why?

  • - Do any of them stay? Can they stay? Is any real choice offered to them?

  • - Is there really a way out of Hell into Heaven?

    - Then those people are right who say that Heaven and Hell are only states of mind?

    - What do they choose, those souls who go back? And how can they choose it?

    - Then is no one lost through the undignified vices, Sir? Through mere sensuality?

  • - Why didn't the Solid People go down into Hell to rescue the Ghosts? Why were they content simply to meet them on the plain?

    - But what of the poor Ghosts who never get into the omnibus at all?

2.  What is the difference between a grumbler and a grumble?  Do you consider the assessment of the "silly, garrulous old woman" too harsh?

3.  How do some ghosts attempt to "extend Hell" into heaven?  What do you think fuels this desire?

4.  How did the famous artist lose his "first love" of Light?

5.  What sorts of things did Robert's wife do in an effort to improve him?  What was her underlying motivation?


Refrigerium:  Latin for "refreshment."  Jeremy Taylor, a 17th century Anglican clergyman wrote: "The church of Rome amongst other strange opinions hath inserted this one into her public offices; that the perishing souls in hell may have sometimes remission and refreshment, like the fits of an intermitting fever...."  Taylor noted a 4th century poet, Prudentius Aurelius Clemens, who also mentioned brief holidays from the torments of hell.  Lewis purchased the works of Jeremy Taylor in 1931.

:  the hero in George MacDonald's 1858 novel Phantastes

Lethe:  a river in hell; drinking from it brings on forgetfulness.

George MacDonald (1824-1905):  a Scottish pastor and author who had great influence on C. S. Lewis.  In the preface to his anthology of 365 MacDonald readings, Lewis wrote, "I have never concealed the fact that I regarded him as my master; indeed I fancy I have never written a book in which I did not quote from him."
            Lewis describes his introduction to MacDonald's fantasy novel Phantastes as a teenager in Surprised by Joy:

The glorious week end of reading was before me.  Turning to the bookstall, I picked out an Everyman in a dirty jacket, Phantastes, a faerie Romance, George MacDonald.  Then the train came in.... That evening I began to read my new book.

            The woodland journeyings in that story, the ghostly enemies, the ladies both good and evil, were close enough to my habitual imagery to lure me on without the perception of a change. ... But in another sense all was changed.  I did not yet know (and I was long in learning) the name of the new quality, the bright shadow, that rested on the travels of Anodos.  I do now.  It was Holiness.... That night my imagination was, in a certain sense, baptized; the rest of me, not unnaturally, took longer.  I had not the faintest notion what I had let myself in for by buying Phantastes.

Surprised by Joy
, pg. 179, 181.

© 2009 by Allyson Wieland