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Posts Tagged ‘Susan Pevensie’

Timothy saw this on my other blog and enjoyed it so I decided to put it here for you all.

Is Lewis promoting Hierarchy in his “Chronicles of Narnia”?

Not the hierarchy of age, class, gender, power, etc. etc. etc. . .

We have a VERY dog-eared fat copy which contains the entire series. I have read through the entire series out loud twice with different groups of my 8 children when they were in the 8-12 year old range. And several of them have re-read the series on their own.

I don’t find the hierarchy of which Robin Phillips speaks. Quite the opposite. In a prologue to the book “The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe”, Lewis’ intended audience is quite clear: his young Goddaughter, Lucy Barfield.

My Dear Lucy,

I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books. As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. You can then take it down from some upper shelf, dust it, and tell me what you think of it. I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand a word you say, but I shall still be your affectionate Godfather, C. S. Lewis.

— C.S. Lewis to Lucy Barfield (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe)

Not coincidentally, in the story, the character Lucy is the youngest of four children, the lowest in the “hierarchy” so to speak.

Yet she is the one who first experiences the Kingdom of Narnia, and she is the one who sees Aslan with the most clarity. And she is also the one who is disbelieved, dismissed, and chastised by the hierarchy of older brothers and sisters,

not to mention betrayed by older brother Edmund who is captivated by the White Witch and his lust for the magical Turkish Delight which never satisfies.

In the final story “The Last Battle”, three of the Pevensie children of the Wardrobe adventure meet the children of other Chronicle adventures in “Aslan’s country” (heaven). One of the four children is not there. Here is what Lewis writes about that:

“My sister Susan,” answered Peter shortly and gravely, “is no longer a friend of Narnia.”
. . .

“Oh, Susan!” said Jill. “She’s interested in nothing nowadays except nylons and lipstick and invitations. She always was a jolly sight too keen on being grown-up.”

“Grown-up, indeed,” said the Lady Polly. “I wish she would grow up. She wasted all her school time wanting to be the age she is now, and she’ll waste all the rest of her life trying to stay that age. Her whole idea is to race on to the silliest time of one’s life as quick as she can and then stop there as long as she can.”

The “hierarchy” of Lewis’ Chronicles is one where children are powerful in the kingdom of Narnia; a kingdom which they can no longer visit once they are past a certain age- until the final journey which has no return. Narnia is a kingdom where children have inspiring, courageous faith and wisdom which- at least in Susan’s case- does not endure into “adulthood”.

I am reminded of Jesus’ words “”Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” Luke 18:17 and “behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last.” Luke 13:30. In Narnia, “hierarchy” is upside-down just like it is in the Kingdom of heaven. We must all become as children.

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