I recently revewis’ book, The Great Divorce, for a homework assignment. It’s an interesting read!
The Great Divorce, by C.S. Lewis, is one of Christianity’s classics. Filled with complex theological and philosophical ideas, this book was likely intended for older readers, but, with parental guidance, would be good for any age to tackle. There are no illustrations in the 128-page edition published by Macmillan Publishing Company.
The Great Divorce is an unusual tale in the first-person. The story follows Lewis as he begins his journey in a dismal, dreary town he later learns is Hell and then catches a bus ride with an ugly, boisterous crowd up to a land he discovers is Heaven. Heaven is a very real place. So real, in fact, that everything that comes from Hell pales in comparison. All the real things in Hell cannot compare with the reality of Heaven that all of the people who took the bus ride became, for all practical purposes, Ghosts. They cannot tread upon the grass without pain because the grass goes completely through them. They cannot lift a leaf off of the ground without great exertion because everything in Heaven is simply much more real then they are. Many Ghosts, however, are so wrapped up with their human, earthly pleasure that they have no desire in their hearts for the joys of Heaven and seek to return to Hell. There are many characters who float in and out of the storyline, such as the many Ghosts and the Spirits who are sent to try to convince the Ghosts to enter the joys of Heaven.
This story is different from many stories for the reason that the book focuses on philosophy and theology over an actual plot line. There are many conflicts between the different Ghosts and the Spirits who are trying to convince them to give up their world pleasures. The climax, however, is rarely reached because the narrative simply states that, as the Ghosts and Spirits walked out of earshot, Lewis never learned whether or not the Spirits actually convinced the ghosts to stay in Heaven. However, there are a few exceptions, which bring much-desired closure or completion to the many plot triangles that Lewis presents.
As with the conflict, there isn’t what could traditionally be called a climax, although the last three pages have somewhat of a great intensity than the rest of the book. When the end of the book is reached, Lewis’ point shines through. While we still have life upon this earth, we must give up our earthly desires so that we may persevere to Heaven.
Lewis was a powerful writer. Lewis had the unique ability to come to terms with your beliefs and with your relationship with God. You may not agree with everything he has to say, but that doesn’t mean you will necessarily enjoy the book less. His books make you examine your heart and your motives and your desires, which every Christian and non-Christian needs from time-to-time. Lewis was firmly grounded in his beliefs and we can only marvel at what God did through him.