Till We Have Faces

by C. S. Lewis

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Student Question

In Till We Have Faces, how does the Fox exhibit love through self-sacrifice?

Quick answer:

The Fox exhibits his love for Orual, his student and friend, by making the sacrifice of preparing to swallow a deadly poison in order to spare Orual misery.

Expert Answers

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The Fox is the name given to the Greek scholar and philosopher who is retained by the King of Glome to educate his daughters Orual and Redival and also, later, Istra, called, in Greek, Psyche.

The Fox the Greek is intelligent, learned and wise but without religious beliefs and without fear of the gods, especially without fear of the Glome god, Ungit. He is the only person whom Orual--the eldest and most lacking in beauty of the King's three daughters--trusts, respects and turns to for friendship and familial affection. The Fox is equally devoted to Orual. He sees past her rough exterior that shows no worldly luster and sees what is in her heart and mind. Along with his affection for Orual, he also respects and trusts her.

One of the most dramatic incidents showing how the Fox, Orual's mentor, teacher and friend, sacrifices himself, even hurting himself, to act on the love he has for Orual is when he is prepared to brew and swallow a deadly poison from a flower in order to spare her the danger of running away from her father and home in order to save his life. Rather than see her alone and forsaken in the world, the Fox steadfastly determines to end his life so that she will have no reason to abandon her home and father.

"I must fly further [than the Grey Mountains]. And help me you shall. Down by the river; you know the little plant with the purple spots on its stalk. It's the roots of it I need."

Another touching example of the Fox exhibiting his love for Orual by making sacrifice or enduring hurt occurs after Orual has revolted in all her affections following the decision to imprison Istra in the five-walled room and sacrifice her for the god Ungit. Orual is in such a state of emotional upheaval over what has happened to Istra, called Psyche, that she rejects all the Fox's affection for her. She says: "I was hiding now not from the King but from the Fox."

When the Fox unravels the mystery of Orual's changed behavior and when she she tells him the reason for the changes, the Fox accepts her change in affection with loving grace and humility: "So that is my sin," said the Fox, smiling sadly. "Well, Lady, you have punished it."

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