Ever wish someone made a method for specific, temporary amnesia? That was my thought when C.S. Lewis, introducing Aslan, said “none of the children knew who Aslan was any more than you do,” but of course I did — and wish I could read this again for the first time.
Re-reading chapter 7 again with my wife, I also realized this obvious truth: at some time, in the past, there was only one Chronicle of Narnia. Imagine that. For us, the stories are simply there. They’ve grown in place, like a volunteer maple tree whose origin we missed. And in the years since the Chronicles have seeded countless other fantasy stories.
Moreover, Lewis’s classics have contributed to many readers’ understandings of Aslan — the supposal, as Lewis said, of how Christ would work in a world like Narnia, if it were real.
Chapter 7: A Day with the Beavers
- Ever notice how some chapter titles give away what happens in the material? Thinking about it, would you (if you were younger) be grateful for this “spoiler,” or disappointed?
- Lewis describes how each of the children felt upon first hearing the name “Aslan” (page 67). What is your reaction to their reactions? What does each reaction show about the character — beyond perhaps the clearest example of Edmund’s “mysterious horror”?
- It’s difficult to explain this kind of reaction, Lewis says, yet he gives an example from the world of dreaming. Does that help you imagine it better?
- Notice how Lewis takes us inside each of the children’s minds. How is that similar to other books in which the author is “omniscient”? How is it unlike other stories in which the author is only limited to one person’s thoughts or perspectives at a time?
- Lewis spends a lot of time describing the land through which the children walk, the frozen river, the Beavers’ house, and especially the dinner they prepare. Why so much time? Do you feel like you want to move on past parts like this and get to more of the plot itself? Or do you like “relaxing,” in a way, and imagining the world and its food?
Chapter 8: What Happened After Dinner
- For the second time, we hear that the Witch can turn creatures and people into stone. Why do you believe this is the Witch’s power? Why not turn them into snow or ice, or simply kill them? What do you think it would be like to be turned into stone? While it’s not a pleasant thought, how does picturing that nastiness “raise the stakes” of the story?
- Why do the children want so badly to hear about who Aslan is (page 78)?
- Why does Mr. Beaver assume the children would already know about Aslan?
- Here’s a vital question for this series: who is Aslan? Is he the same as Jesus Christ? Is he an “allegory” for Jesus Christ? Or is Aslan something else entirely? Who would we ask?
- I have read the opinions of people who don’t like the fact that Aslan spends time away from Narnia, and only just now returns after the land suffered 100 years of winter. Do you think they have a point? Is that similar to, or unlike, how Jesus works in our world?
- Mr. Beaver is confident the White Witch can do nothing to stop Aslan. Is he right about Aslan? Is this another way in which Aslan of Narnia is similar to Jesus of our world?
- Mr. Beaver’s line about Aslan (from page 80) is famous: “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” Later we learn that it’s said Aslan is “not a tame lion.” Is this true, or false, or a mixture? How might we know?
- Some don’t like the idea of Aslan being unsafe. They’d prefer him being a “tame lion” who stays near to help with their problems. Is that a right view? Do you feel that way?
- After all this great theology, we run into something very strange (on page 81). Mr. Beaver says the White Witch “comes of your father Adam’s … first wife, her they called Lilith.” What in the world does this come from? (Answer: Jewish mysticism about Adam having a wife before Eve, called Lilith.) Why doesn’t the author say this is incorrect?
- Or is it incorrect? We now know the White Witch comes from a land called Charn, but that doesn’t mean the “Lilith” lineage notion is untrue. How do you interpret this?