In this brief chapter we have the ghost known as “Ikey,” previously described as “an intelligent-looking man with a rather bulbous nose and a bowler hat,” trying to make off with a piece of heavenly fruit. Now, Ikey is not entirely foolish. In Chapter 2 he indicates that he is indeed aware that the Grey Town will eventually be at sunset, that is, at its end, and at that time “they” will come (demons, I suppose). But he still seems to be focusing on how to take advantage of the situation, hoping to bring something back to make Hell better, for a while, rather than to simply leave it all behind and stay in Heaven.
Somehow Ikey manages to lift a small piece of fruit from a Heavenly tree, which the narrator admits is an impressive feat. While trying to sneak back to the bus with it, a powerful waterfall-spirit tells him he cannot take it back to Hell because “There is not room for it in Hell.” (I think this is the first hint that Hell is in fact a tiny place, not at all on the same scale as Heaven.)
It’s unclear to me whether or not the ghost drops the fruit after the confrontation; the chapter simply ends with him painfully making his way back towards the bus.
So, what are we to make of this?
Lewis’ Use of Magical Imagery and Lore
This is a common theme in Lewis’ fantasies, where the Pagan myths of old Britain are re-cast with Christian themes. The idea of a waterfall having a soul would be nothing unusual to most human cultures across history, whether Japanese or Native American or British Druids. In Lewis’ hands, these nature-spirits instruct the visitor about Heaven the way in a Pagan storyteller’s hands they would have taught the visitor about Nature.
To my mind, Lewis is ultimately saying, “Heaven is the true Nature. God is the true existence. If you focus on the tree, even if that tree has a soul, you have missed the mark.” To make that fresh and exciting and vibrant, he works with the old symbols of magic, whether talking about Heaven in 1945 (when he wrote The Great Divorce), or Narnia in 1950-56 (when he wrote those seven books).
As this is about to become a commentary longer than the chapter itself, I will stop here. 🙂