Classics Without All the Class discussion

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May 2015- Till We Have Faces > Book 1, Chapter 7

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message 1: by Jim (new)

Jim (jborland) May 2015 book discussion --> Till We Have Faces

In chapter 7 we read the narrative of the last conversation between Psyche and Orual before the sacrifice. Ironically, even though this is Orual's account of her complaint against the gods, Psyche comes off much better than her older sister.

Here we see a central theme of this book. Orual comments that Psyche was comforting her "as if it were I who was the child." She wants to have Psyche continue to be dependent on her, as she was when she was a small child. Only when Psyche weeps at the thought that she might just die slowly because there is no god of the Mountain is Orual pleased. Why is Orual pleased? Psyche "was a child again," whom Orual could comfort. Orual's is a possessive love that wants the other to depend upon her. For this reason, Orual is pained by Psyche's action which "was so unlike the sort of love that used to be between us in our happy times."

It also appears that Psyche loves the gods (unlike Orual). Psyche claims that the myths may misrepresent the gods or, more profoundly, that the gods may do these things, but that we don't understand them. With eagerness in her voice Psyche asks, "How if I am indeed to wed a god?"

In exasperation, Orual wails, "Is it nothing to you that you leave me alone here? Psyche, did you ever love me at all?" Orual's love is a selfish love that, like the gods, wants to devour the beloved.

What do you think?


message 2: by Dawnstream (new)

Dawnstream Agreed, Orual is selfish and I don't think she loves as she claims to. She's ugly, therefore, she's been neglected and abused her whole life and has no understanding of love. The Fox and Psyche are the only people to love her, and she's so insecure that she clings to them possessively rather than loving them.


message 3: by Jim (new)

Jim (jborland) Isn't that sad. Having been neglected and abused her whole life maybe she doesn't know how to love. As you said, "no understanding of love." How can we relate this to people we know today? How would you help someone, a friend who was in a similar situation?


message 4: by Candace (new)

Candace I guess I see Orual's words in this scene differently. Yes, they come out sounding selfish to readers, but I think that many people love others selfishly. Instead of loving freely, some approach relationships with others with expectations and an idea that they should receive some benefit (what's in it for me?)


message 5: by Lizbeth (new)

Lizbeth | 23 comments Hmm. It's interesting that Oural, being the main character, only has these two friends, these two loves, that are so different from each other. The Fox is the Classical Old Man, which Lewis definitely was. The Fox is an intellectual, perhaps, but still is a captive slave in a kingdom far from home.

The other is the freely beloved and celebrated Psyche (the soul), a young girl, who is the opposite of the Fox. Psyche is free as a child, and arouses admiration for her beauty, delight found in natural physicality, and is a picture of an earnestly spiritual force. But she also arouses the possessive attachment, masquerading as love, that Dawn pointed out.

Psyche is longing for some interesting things that make Oural feel unloved:

to go to a Grey Mountain (faraway, high up place) where she can finally live fulfilled with its king, leaving everyone she knows behind.

to meet a bridegroom that might be a loving god/devouring monster. The relationship between Christ and the Church is likened to that of a Hebrew Bridegroom coming to call for his Bride to be brought out to him.

Before the Bridegroom can do this, however, he must be "devoured" by the church in the form of the bread and wine (no arguments for or against transubstantiation, here-- just noticing Lewis's imagination at work), for an uncertain length of time.

In this story, however, the devouring is flipped, and the Bride is the one being both loved and consumed by the Bridegroom. Perhaps this is more what love feels like from the human side.

It feels like Lewis is exploring the experience of divine love while still trying to hang on to sanity. Somewhere in there, Reason is trying to survive, and sounds right, but lacks the courage of conviction in the face of all of this doubt and confusion and messy fluidity of the soul.

However, I can feel for Oural, in spite of her jealousy and fear of abandonment. When your children grow up, there is a gnawing feeling that letting them leave home and follow their longings and curiosities is contrary to the natural urge to protect them. The world seems poised to devour them. There is also a necessary rejection, on their part, of the nest. Hopefully, Wisdom, apart from Nature or Reason, will continue to prevail with most parents.

I can't wait to read the upcoming chapters, the original myth, and the discussion questions and comments by others!


message 6: by Jim (new)

Jim (jborland) Fascinating insights. Thanks for sharing!


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