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Dark Like Blood

Dark Like Blood

"'Holy wisdom is not clear and thin like water,
but thick and dark like blood'" (50).
C. S. Lewis's Till We Have Faces (1956)

Points of Reflection

The Bible: Proverbs 1:1-19

1. is this passage concerned with wisdom's transmission through teaching, experience, or intuition?

2. is the author addressing primarily the young and immature in the Book of Proverbs (v.4-5)?

3. why might instructors in the Jewish and Christian traditions (as well as other world religions) speak often in challenging parables as well as more direct proverbs (v.6)? What is gained by expressing something indirectly?

4. apparently, the various Hebrew words translated today simply as "fear" (yirah, yare, and pachad) denote reverent fear, terror, and dread. The similar word yirat is used in Proverbs 1:7 instead of the Hebrew word for mere respect and honor (kabad). Some readers of the Bible, drawn to the idea of a loving and benevolent God, are uncomfortable with the notion of an awesome, omnipotent, and holy deity. How do you read Proverbs 1:7?

5. does the writer of Proverbs encourage his male audience to primarily respect male authority figures (v.8-9)?

6. what does the writer of Proverbs suggest will happen to those who perpetrate violence against others (v.10-19)?


C. S. Lewis's Till We Have Faces (1956), chps 1-9

1. the older and experienced Orual who is narrating this tale about her younger self finds little to praise and much to scorn in the gods of Glome. What array of accusations does she level at Ungit and her son, the god of the Grey Mountain?

2. what does the Fox mean by his favorite phrase “in accordance with nature”?

3. at what points in the plot does the Fox’s own commitment to empiricism and reason falter?

4. does the house of Ungit’s ritualistic spilling of blood echo the Israelites’ sacrifices to God as portrayed in the Old Testament?

5. what characteristics of young Psyche (Istra) prompt Orual’s intense affection?

6. as Psyche (Istra) matures, the nature of Orual’s affection for her steadily grows clearer. What exactly does Orual want/need from her youngest sister?

7. though the parallel is intentionally, necessarily imperfect, Psyche/Istra is repeatedly (both overtly and subtly) linked with Christ by C. S. Lewis. Trace these moments in the text.

8. is fear a sign of wisdom or weakness in this novel?

9. death is, in many ways, the starting point for both religion and philosophy. Those willing to look their mortality squarely in the face are more likely to ask questions about the soul and the afterlife. What various postures towards death do Lewis's characters adopt?

10. King Trom’s treatment of women (family members included) typifies the harsh patriarchal order of his culture. Does Lewis present any exceptions to this practice, or do all the males of Glome consistently treat women as subhuman?

11. does physical beauty signify moral virtue in this novel?

12. is the Priest of Ungit a liar? Does he believe his own declarations?

13. does King Trom evince any easily identifiable virtues or sympathetic qualities?

14. does disability either enervate or enable those characters dealing with it?

15. does this novel treat the body, mind, and soul as discrete constructs/entities, or does Lewis configure them as inextricably intertwined?


Mannequin (1926-27)
"Mannequin (Barcelona Mannequin)" (1926-27)
oil on canvas
Salvador Dali




Dr. Paul Marchbanks
pmarchba@calpoly.edu