I have never read the entire series of The Chronicles of Narnia. I read all but two of them when I was about 8 years old, and sick in bed with the flu. But it is definitely time for me to pay closer attention to them now that I’m older, and even more importantly, now that I share Lewis’ faith. Reading them the first time was fun, but the religious connotations never meant anything to me. Well they certainly do now.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was where I started, and it was an amazing read, coming at it with new eyes. There were a few passages that really stood out to me.
The first thing I noticed was just a few pages in. Lewis’ constant reminders throughout the beginning of the book that it is very foolish to close yourself in a wardrobe, makes me think he really understood children. He knew it was exactly the sort of thing many of us were likely to do after reading his story, and soft-hearted godfather that he was, didn’t want any mishaps assigned to his account. I thought that was adorable. Maybe because I was one of those children.
But more specifically there were several quotes I tried to keep track of as I read.
“…Lu is right,” said Susan. “I don’t want to go a step further and I wish we’d never come. But I think we must try to do something…”
Susan was a favorite character of mine. I understand she’s not exactly a role model because of her fear, but that was what grabbed me about her. Yes, she was full of fear, but she didn’t let it completely control her. I saw it perfectly pictured in this quote. “Yes, I’m terrified, but we have to do the right thing.” She made a choice. And she chose to do right.
At the name of Aslan each one of the children felt something jump in its inside. Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror. Peter felt suddenly brave and adventurous. Susan felt as if some delicious smell or some delightful strain of music had just floated by her. And Lucy got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realize that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer.
“Aslan is a lion – the Lion, the great Lion.”
“Ooh!” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he – quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”
“That you will, dearie, and no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver; “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”
“The he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
As for Aslan himself, the Beavers and the children didn’t know what to do or say when they saw him. People who have not been in Narnia sometimes think that a thing cannot be good and terrible at the same time. If the children had ever thought so, they were cured of it now. For when they tried to look at Aslan’s face they just caught a glimpse of the golden mane and the great royal, solemn, overwhelming eyes; and then they found they couldn’t look at him and went all trembly.
I loved Lewis’ descriptions of Aslan. He certainly had a balanced view of God. Terrible and good, merciful and just, “a consuming fire” and all love – they are not mutually exclusive.
“You must use the bow only in great need,” [Father Christmas] said, “for I do not mean you to fight in the battle… Lucy, Eve’s Daughter,…the dagger is to defend yourself at great need. For you also are not to be in the battle.”
“Why, sir?” said Lucy. “I think – I don’t know – but I think I could be brave enough.”
“That is not the point,” he said. “But battles are ugly when women fight.”
I didn’t feel like they were being told not to fight at all. But that they had a place, a battlefield of their own, and their own tasks to fulfill in a different sphere than the soldiers. Everyone has a place of their own, their own fight, their own battlefield. And sometimes we’re barred from the battlefields we would most like to fight on, but there is always a fight more suited to us.
I have to admit, I didn’t enjoy Prince Caspian nearly as much. It felt like it took a terribly long time for terribly little to happen. It was interesting enough to get me through it, but after The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe it just didn’t feel as impressive. But even then there were a few things that grabbed my attention.
“Aslan,” said Lucy, “you’re bigger.”
“That is because you are older, little one,” answered he.
“Not because you are?”
“I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”
It is not him that changes, but us.
Susan, after ignoring Lucy’s insistences that she had seen and spoken to Aslan, and realizing Lucy was right: “…I’ve been far worse than you know. I really believed it was him – he, I mean – yesterday…And I really believed it was him tonight, when you woke us up. I mean, deep down inside. Or I could have, if I’d let myself. But I just wanted to get out of the woods and – and – oh, I don’t know. And whatever am I to say to him?”
“Perhaps you won’t need to say much,” suggested Lucy.
Then, after an awful pause, the deep voice said, “Susan”. Susan made no answer but the others thought she was crying. “You have listened to fears, child,” said Aslan. “Come, let me breathe on you. Forget them. Are you brave again?”
“A little, Aslan,” said Susan.
Susan let her fear control her. Ashamed, she can hardly stand to face Aslan. And yet Aslan speaks to her gently, and even gives her his blessing and courage.
And finally a quote that just made me laugh:
The sort of History that was taught in Narnia under Miraz’s rule was duller than the truest History you ever read and less true than the most exciting adventure story.
I’ve had less reading time than I would like this month to put towards The Narnia Reading Challenge (I’m sorry, Carrie! I’m trying!). But hopefully next week I’ll have more to share from my journey through Narnia.