Mama Deb (mamadeb) wrote,
Mama Deb
mamadeb

Thoughts on Narnia Part I

Jewish holidays aren't entirely eating, sleeping and going to shul. There are a few hours when there's nothing to do. Oh, one can take walks or visit friends, or even attend a class, and there's the ever-popular naps (see: sleep.) But I like to read. Some prefer not to read secular novels on Shabbat or Yom Tov, but I'm not one of them.

This time around, starting on Yom Kippur, I began reading the complete Chronicles of Narnia, in the proper order of publication, which was also the order in which I originally read them as a teen-ager. Note that, btw. I didn't read these books as a small child. This means I was always somewhat aware of the subtext.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Edmund was drugged by the Turkish Delight. Oh, he started out mean and selfish - if he hadn't, I doubt the White Witch would have gotten her claws in - but she put a spell on the Turkish Delight to make it addictive. And then she promised more. So perhaps Edmund would have betrayed his family anyway, but we will never know.

Lewis very carefully throughout the books had brave girls who were not given a chance to do more than shoot arrows. "I do not mean for you to fight. Just to take care of the aftermath or call for help." Although, iirc, Susan only sounded her horn once. (And if she and Lucy had had swords, maybe they wouldn't have been treed.)

The Easter imagery is very strong - the innocent sacrificed which destroys the old laws. From a Jewish perspective - huh. Replacement theology. And we do not believe in vicarious sacrifice. Killing an innocent is murder. If it's voluntary, it's suicide. In neither case would that satisfy the Law.

Also. Aslan is *there*, whereas his father, the Emperor-beyond-the-sea, is unreachable, except through Aslan. Since I believe Gd is quite reachable (especially on Yom Kippur, the day I read this), there's another "huh".

Still, a pretty piece of world building, and Lucy shines, as she should.

And I will always be bothered that the kids grew up in Narnia - reached full adulthood (to the point that Susan was contemplating marriage serioiusly, which was probably why Aslan arranged for them to go home) and then went back to England to do it all over again. Well, not really, as it turned out, but we didn't know that.



Prince Caspian

This is pretty much the King Arthur story, as fully referenced in the following book, as King Peter returns. Interesting that the air in Narnia brings them back mentally to their royalty. Trying to think if there is Christian subtext here. AGain, just seeing Aslan causes pretty much instant conversion if you're at all good. Oh, there is the unthinking trust - if one of the prophets (in this case, Lucy) says something, obey unquestioning or things will not go well.

Also, notice. The Badger smoked. Trumpkin, the Red Dwarf (ha!),the DLF - those two smoked. The Black Dwarf (and the untrustworthy one) doesn't. None of the kids smoked, but the good male adults did.

Voyage of the Dawn-Treader

Ahh, Eustace! Poor guy. Vegetarian parents and a victim of scientific child-rearing, and forced to spend the summer with his weird cousins. And then he's sucked into a ship where he most decidedly doesn't have a good time, even if Edmund and Lucy (treated as a king and queen) do.

And here's the first step in Susan's fate - instead of staying with Professor Kirke, or with the Scrubbs, she goes off with her parents in an attempt to find her a husband or something, since she's poor in school work. And remember,she was told she wasn't to visit Narnia again.

Eustace's repentance is interesting from a Jewish perspective. He's turned into a dragon (and here I hit timeline problems. If you read the part about the time he was a dragon, it seems to last a long time, but the text says it was just. Hmm. Six days. Which doesn't seem long enough, but okay.) He tries to peel off enough skin, but can't until Aslan does it for him and then there's that baptism. What would happen from a Jewish perspective? Aslan would give him sharp enough claws to do it all himself.

And I'm quite bothered that Caspian's bride never, ever gets a name. I'm also bothered that the Dufflepods have to stay in a rather inconvenient form just because it's funny. But I adore Reepicheep. (And, yeah, Caspian should have married Lucy. Ah, well.)

More later.
Tags: narnia
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