In the beginning of the book CS Lewis is giving a brief set up to what the book will be about and what we can expect as readers. He makes it very clear to us that this is all a fantasy before we continue into the first chapter. To continue, in the first chapter the storyteller begins to describe a bus stop and who he sees around him. The people are angry, and a Big man and a Small man get into a fight because the small man is complaining about the people he sees while the big man tells him to shut his mouth and punches him right in the face. The small man exits the line and the bus arrives. The storyteller describes it as stunning and bright while also driven by a driver that only has one hand on the wheel. The people were boarding the bus in a frenzy for no apparent reason, because the bus was only half full when the storyteller got on last. The storyteller then sits on the bus next to a man, which he calls, Tousle-Headed Poet. One of the most important things that the poet says to the storyteller is that most people do not actually ride the bus because they would much rather prefer to go to grey town. Then suddenly the storyteller notices that they are flying in the bus and can see grey town below him.
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Now in Chapter 2 the poet is telling the storyteller, his life story and what he has gone through in his lifetime. He also confessed to the storyteller that at the beginning of the war he was briefly a communist but then later rejected it. He was in a horrible relationship with a woman and came to his final straw when she was greedy with money and jumped in front of a train. He tells the storyteller that ever since he has jumped in front of the train he has spent his time in grey town. As the bus is still in the air a random fight breaks out between all of the passengers with knives and guns. Then all of the sudden it ends instantly, leaving the storyteller untouched. Now, he is sitting next to a different man who is intelligent man. The intelligent man describes grey town to the storyteller as a place where there are always new people coming in and as soon as they do they tend to fight and brawl. When you arrive at grey town you start at the civic center and you want to eventually make your way to the bus stop. The intelligent man says that it can take millions of years to go from the civic center to the bus stop. Some rather famous people have drifted past the bus stop which include Napoleon, Julius Caesar, and Genghis Kahn. The intelligent man describes how he wishes he could tell people to go forth to the bus stop instead of drifting away. Then he tells the storyteller that he is going to try to pick up some things, so he can sell them to the people in grey town to make some sort of profit.
Now in Chapter 3, the bus finally comes to a stop and people then exit the bus. The area around them is a nearby river with trees and grass on the ground. The storyteller was said to have expressed, I had a sense of being in a larger space, perhaps maybe even a larger sort of space, than I have ever known before (27). This place seemed so vast and infinite to the storyteller. He then comes across a daisy that he tries to pick from the ground. He is bending the stem and trying to twist it and it was as hard as a rock. He described it as hard as a diamond. He then tries to pick up a leaf nearby it and it would not budge. Just the effort of trying to pick the daisy and the leaf left him out of breath. Then the storyteller notices that he is completely see-through and that he is a phantom. So is everyone who wandered out of the bus. A woman cried she couldnt handle it and ran back on to the transportation. The big man who looks like a ghost asked the driver when they were all going to head back to grey town and the driver explains, Stay as long as you please (29). Just upon out in the distance they all see a mountain range and then closer by the river they see bodies of people who were naked and called spirits.
In Chapter 4, the Big Ghost notices a spirit that he knows from his past and remembers him as Len. He then becomes very angry at Len and reminds him he is a murderer and he killed a man named Jack. Len explains in the book after he was accused of murder, Of course I did. It is all right now’ All right is it? All right for you, you mean. But what about the poor chap himself, laying cold and dead? But he isnt. I have told you, you will meet him soon. He sent you his love’ (33). The big ghost was envious and confused that Len is in heaven and gets to be free while the big ghost has to spend his time in grey town. The big ghost says that he has always been good and that he doesnt deserve to be in this situation. Len confused, tells the him of his sins and he gets to be upset and says he will never take advice from a murderer.
In Chapter 5, the storyteller is approached by two lions which he quickly tries to escape until he then came across a spirit conversing with a larger ghost. The ghost was asking the spirit about a man named Dick which is the spirits father. The ghost explains that he is in grey town and rejects the idea of there being a heaven and hell. The spirit asks him to try to have him, believe in him, so he can then move past grey town. Dick believes that grey town is hell plain and simple. The large ghost asks for Dick to go to the mountain to see the face of god and for him to repent his sins. Then after he listens to this conversation he comes up with a novel idea that maybe he could walk on water. So, the storyteller then steps onto the water and in fact was walking on it. It became very difficult though, since the water was moving and he found it to be more difficult than he ever thought.
In Chapter 6, the storyteller is still walking on water and then suddenly is right by a waterfall. He notices the intelligent man he sat next to, on the bus or now known as Ikey. He is in the bushes trying to pick up apples and other items and is finding them to be very heavy. Out of nowhere a large and stern voice came calling out and called Ikey a fool and to put them down. The waterfall, then turned out to be an angel in disguise and made its way over to Ikey. The angel explained to Ikey that apples have no place in hell and that he should enjoy them here. Ikey disobeyed and decided that he was going to continue to the bus anyways.
In Chapter 7, Ikey is still traveling to the bus with the apples stuffed in his pockets. The big angel referred to as Water Giant doesnt try to stop him. The storyteller then comes across all over the world and doesnt think that the true sights in the world are worth seeing at all. He describes them as a bunch of advertisements run by some sort of corporation. He also described hell as a huge disappointment. As the Hard-Bitten ghost was leaving, he warned the storyteller that it is going to rain soon. The rain will be like bullets which upset the storyteller and left him to be sad and worried.
In Chapter 8, the storyteller was upset with the Hard-bitten ghost for telling him that the rain my really injure him. The storyteller goes off to the river and sulks about how the spirits dont look after the ghosts the way he wants them to. He finds that they have their own agenda of things to do that doesnt include them. The storyteller still saddened by the future rain, tries to find some shelter. On his way through the woods, he comes across a female ghost and a spirit in a heated argument over her not wanting to travel up to the mountain. The spirit is insisting that she does in order to receive her body. She gets upset and says she will not. The text explains, A herd of unicorns came thundering through the glades (63) This must have been merely out of pure disappointment of her insisting to not travel upward to the mountain to repent.
What I found most interesting about grey town or hell, was that all who enter start at the civic center and have to find their way to the bus stop. What makes this so compelling for me to think about is that according to the Poet, it takes millions of years to reach the bus stop. That may be for the agony of time you have to think with just yourself about all of your sins that you have committed. Then by the time you reach the bus stop you can make the decision to repent the sins you have committed and go off to heaven or get back on the bus and return to hell. What CS Lewis I think wanted the readers to take away from grey town is that it is not a fiery and satanic place. It is a sad and depressing place where people who sinned are angry and alone. They are left to think about what they have done. It is almost an internal battle with just you and the millions of years you have to contemplate what you have done. Some questions I have that I did not get clarity from the text is how do you end up getting the luxury of going on the bus? How do you know where to find the bus stop? What inhibits you from getting to the bus stop in Genghis Kahn, Julius Caesar, and Napoleons case?
After reading this text I have learned a great deal of what the after life is like in CS Lewiss mind. It is nothing like I would have ever imagined and was quite hard to understand at first read. But after more deep analyzing I have come to the conclusion that when you go to grey town you have to think long and hard about what you have done to land in a place like that. Then, after thorough contemplation you have the opportunity to go to the bus. When you make it to the destination you should travel up the mountain, see the face of God, and repent your sins so then you can enter eternal happiness of heaven. I imagine this book is going to make it quite a feat to get to heaven, but I think it would be. Overall, so far this book is a little confusing, but I really enjoyed reading CS Lewiss perspective on all of these unknowns.
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