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He never finished what he was going to say for at that moment something happened. The high-backed chair in front of the fire moved suddenly and there rose up out of it - like a pantomime demon coming up out of a trapdoor the alarming form of Uncle Andrew. They were not in the empty house at all; they were in Digory's house and in the forbidden study! Both children said "O-o-oh" and realized their terrible mistake. They felt they ought to have known all along that they hadn't gone nearly far enough.

I've looked up the dictionary:

out of it [edit] English [edit] Adjective

out of it (comparative more out of it, superlative most out of it)

(idiomatic) Not participating in some trend or group.

    When my old friends turned up, my wife felt quite out of it.

(idiomatic) Disoriented; not thinking clearly.

    Having the flu all week left me pretty well out of it.

(idiomatic) Drunk.

It's not quite right no matter it is talking about the chair or Uncle Andrew.

And the pantomime demon?

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2 Answers 2

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The above isn't properly punctuated. It should be:

The high-backed chair in front of the fire moved suddenly, and there rose up out of it - like a pantomime demon coming up out of a trapdoor - the alarming form of Uncle Andrew.

There are two statements here:

The high-backed chair in front of the fire moved suddenly.

The alarming form of Uncle Andrew rose up out of [the chair], like a pantomime demon coming up out of a trapdoor.

The demon part is a simile; the author is comparing Uncle Andrew to a monstrous creature; because, I guess, of the sudden way he gets up from his seat.

I think the construction: "There rose up... the form of Uncle Andrew....." is intended to make it sound archaic, like a legend or a storybook.

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Now this makes sense. Thanks. –  lamwaiman1988 Jun 24 '11 at 1:59
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Pantomime demon means "a demon in a pantomime" (a theatrical production). It's a theatrical trope that demons pop up out of a trapdoor in the stage; basically Lewis is saying that Uncle Andrew emerged like a really scary jack-in-the-box. More recently, The Grauniad used the phrase to describe Neil Lennon: "His Irishness, his red-headedness, his character, have combined... to transform him into Scottish football's pantomime demon." –  MT_Head Jun 24 '11 at 2:50
    
I don't particularly feel there's anything wrong with the original punctuation. The whole tone is a little archaic/poetic, but OP's only problem really is he didn't notice that it meant the chair. He just looked up out of it on some online dictionary, found the slang definition, and applied it incorrectly. I'm surprised like a pantomime demon was hard to understand though - I doubt I've ever read that exact expression before, but the meaning looks pretty transparent to me. It should be obvious even if you had to look up each word in a dictionary. –  FumbleFingers Jun 24 '11 at 3:10
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I'm not 100 percent sure about the hyphen; but, there definitely should have been a dash after "trapdoor" to mark the end of that interrupting clause. –  RMorrisey Jun 24 '11 at 3:50
    
I agree that there should be a second dash. But the comma you have added after "and" doesn't look right to me. The semicolon is dubious: I think I'd replace it with a comma. –  Cerberus Jun 24 '11 at 4:04
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There's no special meaning of "out of it" here. "It" refers to the chair, and uncle Andrew is simply rising out of that chair. If it's no clear, the subject of the verb "rose" in this sentence is "the alarming form of Uncle Andrew".

edit: As noted in the comments, this is the British use of pantomime, not the American. Thanks for the corrections.

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Did he mean to say "There Uncle Andrew rose up out of it"? –  lamwaiman1988 Jun 24 '11 at 1:47
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I clarified this in my edit. The subject of the verb is the phrase "the alarming form of Uncle Andrew," which comes after the subordinate clause "like a pantomime demon coming up out of a trapdoor." –  jackgill Jun 24 '11 at 1:52
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You're using "pantomime" in the American sense; in British English (and CS Lewis was definitely British, not American) pantomime is a musical-comedy production - our closest approximation in the States is probably a high school variety show, or a USO production. "Pantomime (x)" in British English refers to a stage prop; "panto crowd" (a phrase used by British and Irish comedians (see 9:48) to gently mock their audience) means "noisily demonstrative." –  MT_Head Jun 24 '11 at 2:40
    
I agree with @MT_Head. It's the British pantomime, not at all 'silent mime/gesturing'. The implication here is big and theatrically scarey (especially to younger children). A bit like Captain Hook in Peter Pan movies (and then some!), for example. I'll upvote the answer, but respectfully suggest @jackgill edits accordingly. –  FumbleFingers Jun 24 '11 at 3:18
    
OHHHHHHH.....I thought it mean mime, that why I didn't understand. –  lamwaiman1988 Jun 24 '11 at 4:23
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