Another Cool Thing About Narnia

I’ve been re-reading the Narnia Chronicles as a result of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (which I highly recommend) and I’m on The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which I’m reading slowly as it’s always been my favorite book.

But this time around I think it’s The Magician’s Nephew that’s resonating the most. There’s something about the decency in CS Lewis’ voice that just *gets* me. Because thinking about how Digory has to go after Polly, after his uncle has sent her “somewhere” on her own, via his magic rings, is just – well, it’s just mighty decent of him. And some days, I don’t know, basic decency seems really appealing in a world where people are blowing each other up all the time.

Early in the book, when Polly meets Digory Kirke, she notices he has been blubbing, and nearly says as much, but doesn’t, because it would be rude to do so. Yet he has been blubbing, because his mother is dying, and it’s one of the only instances I can even think of in any book, children’s or otherwise, where a boy is crying, and it’s totally normal and natural that he is crying, and that in fact, no big deal is made of his crying – except for the fact that Polly is a nice enough person to know not to mention it.

And her not mentioning it has nothing whatsoever to do with him being a boy. That’s what I like about CS Lewis’ universe. In his world, boys do cry.

4 Replies to “Another Cool Thing About Narnia”

  1. “Voyage Of The Dawn Treader” was my favorite of the series when it came to letting my imagination of the scenery just run wild. I loved reading that book. It took me places no other book has taken me.

    All of the books in the series were awesome, but the “Voyage Of The Dawn Treader” book was so magnificent and just blew me away mentally.

    I hadn’t ever thought about the way that CS Lewis conveyed that it’s ok for boys to cry in the book “The Magician’s Nephew” that’s a good point. I’ve never re-read a book in my life, but this blog entry pushed me mighty, mighty close. 🙂


  2. I don’t know. I read it as saying that it’s okay for boys to cry only when there’s a major traumatic event in their lives. The average person, seeing a boy cry, would assume that he’s just being a sissy, but Polly’s decency leads her to not make that assumption. The implication I see is that if he were crying about, say, being insulted or frightened, it would be okay to make fun of him.

    I haven’t read the books in over twenty years, so I’m going on your comments.

  3. When I was younger, one of the things I liked about the books was the notion that mean, silly, or selfish characters could ultimately redeem themselves (in particular Edmund in LW&W and Eustace in VDT). To someone who thought or was told she* was these things and worse, it was comforting. Actually, it still is comforting. It meant, to me, that people are basically, well, decent–deep down, if not readily apparent. Sometimes all it takes is a quiet chat with a godlike giant talking Lion, or a greed-fueled reptilian metamorphasis, but, hey, any way you learn is a good way to learn.

    And, let’s face it, the Dawn Treader is a really, really cool name for a ship.


    *retroactive pronoun gender enhancement enabled

  4. I remember the crying, but I don’t remember thinking twice about it. Maybe it’s cause I read them when I was 5, and 5 year-old boys can still cry. Or maybe not.

    One of the things I sometimes wonder about is whether or not I would have rung the bell. I honestly don’t know.

    My favorite was either the Voyage of the Dawn Treader (because it’s cool) or The Horse and His Boy (because it was such a change of pace). I always identified strongly with Eustace (not so much with Edmund). What I liked about the characters redeeming themselves was that it was actually believable, whereas in most books that try and redeem characters it comes across as false. I think it’s because it was understated (as so much was) — Edmund’s redemption happens essentially offstage. It’s so easy to become overwrought when talking about people’s state of mind.

    The other things that have always stayed with me from those books are Reepicheep daring the end of the world, and the way that the prophecy unfolded in The Silver Chair. It was set up very ambiguously whether they were looking at the right signs, and for me it always remained ambiguous. And, as I’ve said before, ambiguity is where I live.

    I finally saw the movie, and I’ll just add my favorite thing from the movie–I finally got a good sense of Susan. She never really had all that much to do in the books, (and when Lucy and she did something together, it usually ended up reflecting more on Lucy) but just be virtue of being visible on screen so much she was able to project her character so much more.

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