1. Bainespal says:

    Why do you think the Witch stops to find out who gave the part of animals their gifts?

    This reinforces the theme that you noted in the last Reading Group column — that the White Which is sort of an anti-Santa.  She hijacked and distorted Father Christmas in illegitimate mimicry.  She won’t like it that the real Father Christmas has returned.

    “What is the meaning of all this gluttony, this waste, this self-indulgence? Where did you get all these things?” (page 115) Is the Witch even partly right in her accusation? Why does she assume this about the beasts? If she’s wrong, what were they really doing?

    Perhaps they were giving thanks and rejoicing, partly for what Father Christmas had just given them, but probably more for the apparent end of the Witch’s curse.

    How do you find the pages of description about the arrival of spring? Who is bringing it? (Hint: the chapter title.) What themes might be in the contrast of winter and spring?

    I think Lewis would have seen the pattern of winter and spring as Resurrection imagery.

    The first of this chapter is heavy with descriptions of the world, then of Aslan’s camp, then finally of Aslan himself. Do you tend to read faster during these parts, or slower? Why do you think the author spends more time describing things like this, and less time describing, say, exactly how Peter dresses or what the White Witch’s sleigh looks like?

    I read slower, trying to piece together the geography in my head and wishing that I was looking at a map.  I think this scene is critical to the whole Chronicles, because it establishes the geographic continuity of Narnia.  I think descriptions of places may be more important to fantasy in general than they are to other genres; landscapes help create a sense of epic scope and show the wonder of a fantastic world.

    Aslan is surrounded by more Narnian creatures, including many we haven’t previously seen, such as centaurs. Which creature or mythical beast do you like best, and why?

    I love the way the centaurs are depicted as warrior sages throughout the Chronicles.  They get my vote!
    It’s interesting that the creatures from Greek mythology that Lewis incorporated into Narnia are shown as Aslan’s natural allies.  Dryads, Naiads, and anthropomorphic animals — a sense of naturalism.

    “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.” (page 126) Why might the author describe Aslan’s appearance and effects this way?

    It’s reminiscent of how God is described from the human perspective in the Old Testament — too glorious for us to look upon, revealing us completely.

    Do we sometimes “play with religion” and not consider the truth that Christ is “royal, solemn, overwhelming,” making us fear?

    This is another spiritual truth that I think fantasy can help us reclaim better than nonfiction or “realistic” fiction can.

    When the children arrive, he claps his paws together and declares a feast — here is another feast in the story. Why all the feasts?

    I had not noticed, but there does seem to be a lot of feasting, beginning with the party of animals, but probably actually going back to the dinner with the Beavers.  Why all the feasts?  Isn’t the Royal Feast archetype supposed to be reserved for the happy ending?

    Imagine being Peter during the battle. What may you have expected? By contrast, what was the battle truly like? What was Peter’s response? What would yours have been?

    My modern, sinful response (not really a full response, just a thought) at this scene was to wonder why Aslan would prevent his other soldiers from fighting off the wolf.  I know Aslan wanted Peter to “earn his spurs,” and I thought that was all fine and good, but I reason that it would not be worth testing Peter’s resolve when doing so could put both Susan and Peter at risk.
    There are probably many reasons why that response is wrong, including that dishonor may be worse than death from a medieval or classical mindset.  The main reason that it is wrong is because of who Aslan is, even as a not-quite-symbol.  Peter or Susan could have gotten hurt, but they did not, because Peter obeyed Aslan, and Aslan knew what he was doing.

  2. Galadriel says:

    Your comment about reverence for God reminds me of the passage in Perelandra where the narrator meets the Eldil of Mars .

    As long as what you are afraid of is something evil, you may still hope that the good may come to your rescue. But suppose you struggle through to the good and find that it is also dreadful? How if food itself turns out to be the very thing you can’t eat and home the very place you can’t live, and your very comforter the person who makes you uncomfortable. Then, indeed, there is no rescue possible: the last card has been played.”   

What do you think?