What is the main conflict in "Out of the Silent Planet"?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The central idea of Out of the Silent Planet revolves around how human beings can make life more livable in a setting where it is difficult to live.  The beliefs in Malacandra are diametrically opposed to those of Earth.  Where struggle, cruelty, and radical individualism pervade on Earth (resulting in its silence from other planets), there is a sense of holistic understanding and cooperation on Malacandra.  The main conflict of the work lies within ourselves: How do we transform our current planet into one that bears similarities or Malacandra?  Lewis asserts that things have devolved into such terrible proportions on Earth that there is an inherent need to change things right now, at this moment.  There is ample evidence in the work to suggest that Lewis is suggesting that a change in mentality is possible and explores this through the protagonists in the work.   Implicit within this conflict is that resolution is possible with a paradigm that demands an embracing of what can be, as opposed to what is.  The characters in the novel, especially Ransom, have to wrestle with such an understanding.  The weight of consciousness is comprehending that human beings are multiple essences, consisting of both what we are and what we can be.  This seems to be a central conflict of Lewis' work.