Last week we almost didn’t have the reading group at my church; I was battling a cold and I believe God helped me recover just in time to have a fantastic, and prolonged, discussion about Aslan. Good and evil themes are increasing in LWW, and in these chapters we see even more clearly the distinction between the two — along with God-exalting, reality-reflecting truths of what really causes evil, and the seriousness of fighting it.
Chapter 9: In the Witch’s House
- After readers stay with the three Pevensie children, and Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, in the previous chapter, do you appreciate that after the break (and “There’s not a moment to lose” cliffhanger) that the author immediately answers what all readers surely want to know: What happened to Edmund and where is he? How would you feel if Lewis instead resumed at the Beavers’ lodge to show them all preparing to escape? A bit let down?
- Lewis doesn’t leave us to wonder about what Edmund is thinking. Instead he explains Edmund’s motives in great detail. Does this make Edmund’s attitude better or worse?
- “She was jolly nice to me, anyway, much nicer than they are. I expect she is the rightful Queen really. Anyway, she’ll be better than that awful Aslan!” At least, that was the excuse he made in his own mind for what he was doing. It wasn’t a very good excuse, however, for deep down inside him he really knew that the White Witch was bad and cruel.(page 89)
- Whoa! Edmund isn’t “misunderstood,” or even deceived — he is actively deceiving himself, despite what he himself knows to be true! Might that startle us?
- How does this compare with other stories’ villains who are themselves lied to, or being controlled, or otherwise have something good about them deep down inside? How often do some stories show villains who somehow can’t help what they do? How often do other stories more clearly show villains who are truly, gladly evil?
- Does this mean Edmund can’t be redeemed? What would it take to stop his lies?
- How does Edmund’s trouble in the winter make you feel? What do you think about his imaginations to re-make the world of Narnia how he thinks it should be?
When Edmund arrives in the Witch’s courtyard, how do you react to his mockery of the stone lion? Why doesn’t it work? “The great stone beast still looked so terrible, and sad, and noble, staring up in the moonlight” (page 96). How does this make you feel?
- Similarly, recall the first time you read this spooky scene. (The 2005 film showed it very well, but use your own imagination!) How does this make you feel, and keep reading?
- Edmund doesn’t seem surprised by the Witch’s angry reaction. Why not? Do you want to yell at him? Or, perhaps, might you nod your head soberly and say, “Yes, this is exactly how it is when we’re sinning, committing treason against God, and knowing it”?
Chapter 10: The Spell Begins to Break
- What do you think about Mrs. Beaver’s comical reluctance to leave the lodge without over-packing? Is this mainly for fun, or for some Deeper Meaning, or another reason?
- (The movie made this clear, yet the book is subtler.) What makes them worried about the bells they hear? Did you notice the difference between the last line of the previous chapter, when the Witch says, “Make ready our sledge … and use the harness without bells” (page 99)? Who truly used the sleigh and reindeer first — her, or Father Christmas? How else do evil people often steal and try to corrupt good ideas and things?
- According to Father Christmas, who just “got in” to Narnia again, who weakens the Witch’s magic — the hope the children brought, or the fact that “Aslan is on the move”?
- Why do the children respect Father Christmas as if he’s a saint, with spiritual authority?
Receiving gifts, like special weapons, is a common theme in fantasy tales. How is such a moment usually presented? Here Father Christmas says, “These are your presents … and they are tools not toys. The time to use them is perhaps near at hand. Bear them well” (page 108). How might this help us think of our own gifts, or even real weapons?
- This story entertains, yet also has serious moments like these. Why do you think that is?
- Why do you think Father Christmas says to Susan, “I do not mean you to fight in the battle,” and to Lucy, “You also are not to be in the battle” (pages 108-109). Does he mean they aren’t capable of bravery or skill? But he says, “That is not the point … battles are ugly when women fight” (page 109). That is his reason. By contrast, are battles notugly when men fight? What do you think he means by this? And is it a Biblical concept?
- By contrast, the second recent Narnia film, Prince Caspian, threw Susan and even Lucy into battle with the boys and creatures. Did this seem realistic or good?