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The Great Divorce | Study Guide

C.S. Lewis

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The Great Divorce | Chapter 12 | Summary



The narrator notices light moving toward him, which turns out to be a group of singing spirits. He realizes it is a procession lead by Sarah Smith, a beautiful spirit who now has a large family in Heaven because she was kind in life. She approaches two ghosts, a Dwarf and a tall Tragedian, whom the Dwarf holds by a chain.

The two ghosts are what remains of one person named Frank, who has been split in two by his pain and anger. They appear eager to hurt Sarah, but she appeals to them to find happiness, speaking almost exclusively to the Dwarf. She says she is in love with him as she loves everything, although she did not love him when they were on Earth. In the absence of need, Sarah says, they can finally truly love one another. Although the Dwarf seems to want this, the Tragedian wishes death to Sarah.


Although the context of their relationship is unclear, the dynamic between Frank and Sarah is shaped by Frank's sense of being wronged. MacDonald explains that Sarah is beloved by many in Heaven for her goodness, and yet she seems to have hurt Frank in life: whether intentionally or unintentionally is unclear. He has been split in two by his anger at her, and he now wants to cause her some of the pain he felt, as shown by the Tragedian. But the Dwarf controls the Tragedian; they are the same person, but the Dwarf also holds the chain that binds the Tragedian, suggesting the one is in ultimate control of the other. The Dwarf is still drawn to Sarah and begins to see a way toward forgiving her and moving on into Heaven with her. Laughter, in fact, is the source of Sarah's strength; it diminishes the rage of the Tragedian and helps the Dwarf break free from his own fury. However, the chapter ends before he makes his choice.

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