Out of the Silent Planet Themes

  • C. S. Lewis was a devout Christian, and Out of the Silent Planet, like his popular series The Chronicles of Narnia, has overt religious themes. Lewis never refers directly to Christianity, instead writing about an alien race that worships an all-powerful spirit named Oyarsa. As an omniscient, omnipresent, yet invisible being, Oyarsa stands in for the Christian God, making Out of the Silent Planet a religious novel designed to subtly convert readers.
  • There are three races on Malacandra: the Sorns, the Hrossa, and the Pfifltriggi. Lewis invented the word "hnua" to indicate that the three races all live in harmony. This is in stark contrast to the discord on Earth, where the different races find themselves in frequent conflict. Out of the Silent Planet depicts the absurdity of racism and the joy of living in harmony with other races.
  • Friendship is an important theme in Out of the Silent Planet. Ransom's friendship with Hyoi allows him to learn the Hrossa's language, study their religion, and become a part of their society in a way that Weston and Devine never could, because the two men have no other friends on Malacandra. For Lewis, friendship is one possible means of overcoming racism.

Social Concerns / Themes

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Out of the Silent Planet depicts the cosmic significance of the individual's choices, the evils of social engineering, the absurdity of racism, and the limitations of man's appropriate power without mentioning any of these words. Lewis presents a Pedestrian, a vacationing don named Ransom, whose everyman title and mixed motives make him believable. His decent responses to the alien good and the familiar evil engage the reader's sympathy. For example, when Ransom acts as a translator for the evil scientist's plans for the universe by placing Weston's bombastic scientism in words prelapsarian creatures can understand, Lewis is able to strip bare the ultimate banality of the evil implicit in these plans.

In this novel, then, Lewis indicts those modern movements which have resulted in pogroms, concentration camps, total war, and totalitarianism: social Darwinism, militant materialism, moral relativism. Against the reduction of human beings to integers arrangeable at the whim of scientistic rulers, Lewis presents man's supernatural nature and destiny, his being part of a creation of love and freedom. In his coining the word hnau to mean all rational creatures regardless of their morphology, Lewis affirms the absolute dignity of humankind regardless of race, nationality, or limitations.

(The entire section is 197 words.)