Classics Without All the Class discussion

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May 2015- Till We Have Faces > Book 1, Chapter 2

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message 1: by Jim (new)

Jim (jborland) Here we learn more about the Fox's beliefs and their inconsistencies. The Fox appears to be a Stoic, the ancient Greek school of philosophy which taught that virtue, the highest good, is based on knowledge. The wise live in harmony with the divine Reason that governs nature, and they endure pain or hardship without a display of feelings and without complaint. The Fox often speaks of living according to nature which is to live according to reason. He says, "We must learn child, not to fear anything that nature brings."

However, when his life was threatened by the King, he trembled at the prospect of death and said, "That's my disgrace. The body is shaking. I needn't let it shake the god within me."

What is your reaction to this inconsistency?

Also in this chapter, Psyche is born. She is the daughter of King Trom and thus Orual's half-sister. Her name is actually Istra, which we are told means Psyche in Greek. It is interesting that since Faces is a retelling of the Cupid and Psyche myth, Lewis (the author) chose to name this character with the same name as in the myth. He's definitely not trying to hide the fact that his story is "a myth retold."

Psyche is beautiful. The Stoic Fox's highest praise of Psyche, whom he sees as the perfection of beauty, is that she is "according to nature." But hers is more than physical beauty, it is almost spiritual because the book says she "made beauty all around her."

Note and remember this interesting quote by Psyche: "When I'm big I will be a great, great queen, married to the greatest king of all, and he will build me a castle of gold and amber up there on the very top (of the Grey Mountain)."

What is the child Orual's reaction to all this talk of Psyche's beauty? Can we learn anything about today's world from this?

In here are the first words that compare Psyche with the gods, and we're introduced to the danger of provoking the goddess Ungit's envy. But the chapter ends with the Stoic Fox saying, "The divine nature is not like that. It has no envy."

What do you think about the idea of a god being jealous or envious?

Is there something interesting in this chapter that grabbed your attention?


message 2: by John (new)

John I read the Cupid and Psyche story first. The god has the same limitations as us humans. She's proud and envious. She seems to be a weak, selfish, and hateful human with power. I can't help but contrast this god to the Christian God nailed to a cross.

Poor Psyche is just a kid dreaming of being a queen.


message 3: by Jim (new)

Jim (jborland) Yes, Psyche seems to have high aspirations for herself. She never complains or disagrees when people say she is a goddess. We'll find out later in the story what happens to her dream of being a queen.


message 4: by Lizbeth (new)

Lizbeth | 23 comments The Fox character seems to symbolize Reason, and its limits. He reminds me of Virgil in Dante's inferno.

However, Lewis seems sympathetic toward the Fox. His body trembles at the threat to his life, giving away his fear, but he struggles to keep his faith in a natural order of events.

Instead of admitting that his Stoic faith has failed him, which is a disgrace to him, he feels instead that he failed his Stoic faith. He takes his shame upon himself, which weakens him.


Kadijah Michelle (kadmich) I believe the idea of a god being jealous and envious is a common thing in all religions. It is personified in the Greek Myths, but in the Judea/Christian/Islamic faiths, God is, for lack of a better word, a selfish God. God wants all of our devotion and faith to be put in him(her). We are warned in the Torah/Bible/Quran that God will send his spite if we disobey him. I think Lewis is pointing the universality of that idea in this book.


message 6: by Jim (new)

Jim (jborland) Excellent observation! Thanks for sharing.


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