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The Chronicles of Narnia: Lessons of Life Depicted in Allegorical Novels by Ralph Rezza

Growing up, I found it rather difficult to enjoy school. This was primarily because my mind would wonder elsewhere, daydreaming about doing or being something else. However, my outlook on school changed in 5th grade when I was charged with reading the Chronicles of Narnia: the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I was swept away by C.S. Lewis' work, keeping my focus and passion channeled into something both enjoyable, but constructive as well. Lewis' Narnia universe astounded me, not just because of the picture he paints about the land of Narnia, but because it was the first time I realized that there was literature out there that can appeal to someone like me. In addition to this, I elaborated on personal experiences and how the books, characters and Ignatian Discernment helped me come to a conclusion about what do. For the sake of this project, I will be exclusively talking about the books plots, characters, and themes, not referring to the movies at all. However, I decided to use some pictures from the movies for visual aids. After each book summary and then my own personal elaboration/ reflection, I will be providing some insight from other authors and experts in literature. This will allow the reader to understand the plot and story, I I personally have grown and learned, but also provide insight on what other individuals enjoy and think of the the books.

Cair Paravel

C.S. Lewis was one of the most prolific writers of his time and still influences pop culture and writers in the modern era. Lewis left the Christian faith at the age of 15, stating he was "angry with God for not existing." After spending years as an atheist, he was compelled by his colleague, J.R.R. Tolkein to return to theism, the concept of believing in higher being. Lewis adamantly resisted conversion, noting that he was brought into Christianity like a prodigal, "kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance to escape" (Surprised by Joy, p229). Lewis credits his allegorical literature to his rekindled faith, drawing from philosophical and theological texts, causing his characters to jump off the page. Throughout this presentation, I will summarize each of the books within the series and explain a lesson I learned from each of them.C.S. Lewis's first book in the Chronicles of Narnia is the Magician's Nephew.

C.S. Lewis's first book in the Chronicles of Narnia is the Magician's Nephew. In the story, Digory Kirke and Polly Plummer are friends 19th century London. Digory and Polly go into Digory's attic trying to get into an abandoned house. Instead, they find Digory's mysterious Uncle Andrew hard at work in the attic. Uncle Andrew tricks Polly into touching a gold ring, which causes her to disappear. He explains to Digory that the gold rings transport people to different worlds while the green rings he has brings back people to their world. Digory takes the green rings and touches the gold ring to go find his friend Polly. He is transported to a series of mystical pools which allow people to enter different worlds. He and Polly decide to go to an old, desolate land called Charn. After wandering around for a bit in the castle at the center of Charn, they see an old bell and despite Polly's warnings, Digory rings it. This causes the castle to crumble, making its resident, the evil queen Jadis to follow them. Jadis follows the children back to London where she attempts to take over the world. Using the rings, Digory and Polly attempt to bring Queen Jadis back into Charm. However, the pull Jadis, Uncle Andrew, and a horse named Strawberry into a world not yet formed. They see Aslan, a great talking Lion create a new world: Narnia. He brings stars, plants, and animals into existence as he sings. His singing attracts everyone to him, except Jadis, who is terrified of his song. His song brings Jadis throws a metal beam at Aslan, but it bounces off, growing a lamppost. Aslan tasks Digory with protecting Narnia, telling him to find a golden fruit in a faraway land. Aslan gives some animals the ability to speak, helping Digory and Polly by turning Stawberry into a talking Pegasus, who renames himself Fledge.

Digory and Polly ride Fledge the Pegasus to retrieve the Golden Apple.

The golden fruit that Digory, Polly, and Feldge are tasked to retrieve is supposed to be planted in Narnia, as it would help ward off the Evil Queen Jadis. When Digory, Polly and Fledge arrive at the tree that bears the golden fruit, Digory is tempted by the smell. The Evil Queen Jadis arrives and tell Digory to eat the fruit, as it grants immortality. Digory is tempted at this but doesn't succumb to the temptation. However, he becomes far more tempted to bring the golden fruit to his mother, who is very sick. Digory hesitates but realizes that his mother wouldn't condone stealing. Digory sees through the witches' ploy. Upon returning, Digory plants the seed and it grows into a beautiful tree, warding off Jadis. Aslan explains to Digory how the tree's fruit works. You get your hearts desire, but in a way that makes it unlikeable. In the Witch's case, she achieved immortality, but it only means eternal misery because of her evil heart. Moreover, the magic apples are now a horror to her, such that the apple tree will repel her for centuries to come. With Aslan's permission, Digory then takes an apple from the new tree to heal his mother. Upon returning to London, Digory's apple restores his mother's health, and he and Polly remain lifelong friends. Digory plants the apple's core with Uncle Andrew's rings in the back yard of his aunt's home in London, and it grows into a large tree. Years later, Digory's family inherit a mansion in the country, and the apple tree blows down in a storm. Digory has its wood made into a wardrobe, setting up the events in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

The Golden Apple Tree

I learned two lessons from Lewis' The Magicians Nephew. The first one is that being honest to yourself and others gives you the best outcome. This is a difficult concept to grasp at young age, especially since you are still developing as an individual and it is much easier to do what you want rather than whats right. The right choice isn't necessarily the easy choice but a lot of the times, the perks of doing the easier choice are surprisingly outweighed by the unforeseen benefits of the harder choice. I learned early on that the right thing is often the hard thing to do. The reason why is because it is easier to succumb to our own wishes rather than those of God. By using Ignatian discernment, you can figure out what is best for you, realizing that God is the source of all goodness in your life as well. Not temporary goodness, but lasting goodness. The second lesson is to never be afraid to explore life. This can be taken several ways, however, what I mean by this is that life can be frightening and unsettling. A lot of times, you are presented with situations or circumstances that make you uncomfortable or trouble you. However, a lot of times these situations, and how you respond, can teach you the most valuable lessons about life and yourself. Putting yourself out there is important to develop your character. One thing I struggle with is what I want to do after I graduate college. I am scared I'll make the wrong choice or worse, I'll mess up at the right choice and not end up where I want to be. I should use Ignatian discernment and realize what's best for me may not be what I want. I should also come to terms that everything I am and will be is a gift from God. This will help me find my way in the world.

J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis

As stated before, J.R.R Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were very close friends, drawing inspiration from each other's works. One of the really fascinating elements of this relationship is who drew inspiration from whom first? Often many people see C.S. Lewis as the original and J.R.R Tolkien as the copycat. In actuality however, Mari Ness wrote an article called A World Sung Into Creation: The Magician’s Nephew, where she discusses how C.S. Lewis copied many elements from J.R.R Tolkien. As mentioned about, we see in the plot how Aslan sings a wondrous song, bringing the world of Narnia into being (Ness 3). This was first seen in Tolkien's The Silmarillion, which gives us an idea of how Middle Earth was created. Essentially, Ilúvatar's ( the highest being) brought into being the Ainuar or Holy Ones, whose closest parallel would be angles. It was these Ainuar who joins in the song, creating the world and its inhabitants (Tolkien 32). There is disharmony in the song however, causing major problems in Ilúvatar's world. This harmony can be seen in the parallel of The Magician's Nephew when Jadis disrupts the harmony of Aslan's song, bringing corruption into Narnia early one. It is truly incredible how both of these revolutionary authors opened the minds of the world by using each other as inspiration .

The Lion, the Witch and Wardrobe takes place around 45 years following the Magicians Nephew. The story revolves around Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie, four siblings sent to live in the country with the eccentric Professor Kirke during World War II. This Professor Kirke is actually Digory Kirke. The children are wandering Professor Kirke's mansion on a rainy day, playing hide and seek. Lucy Pevensie, the youngest of the children, wanders around and finds a massive wardrobe. This is the wardrobe that Digory Kirke made from the magical tree's wood. Lucy enters the wardrobe, hiding from her siblings. However, as she goes into the closet, she is transported to a snowy forest. The first thing she sees is a lamppost, the lamppost that grew out of the ground in the Magicians Nephew. Lucy encounters the Faun Tumnus, who is surprised to meet a human girl. Tumnus tells Lucy that she has entered Narnia, a different world. Tumnus invites Lucy to tea, and she accepts. Lucy and Tumnus have a wonderful tea, but the faun bursts into tears and confesses that he is a servant of the evil White Witch.

Lucy arriving in Narnia for the first time.

The Witch has enchanted Narnia so that it is always winter and never Christmas. Tumnus explains that he has been enlisted to capture human beings. Lucy convinces Mr. Tumnus to release her, and he grants her request. Lucy goes back to the Human world and tells her siblings about what she has seen. The Pevensie children look back into the wardrobe and it is just an ordinary piece of furniture. In addition to them saying she was gone for a a few seconds and not hours like she claims, her siblings also tease her and tell her she is crazy. Edmund teases Lucy continuously about her imaginary country until one day, he sees her vanish into the wardrobe. Edmund follows Lucy and finds himself in Narnia as well. He does not see Lucy anywhere nearby. Instead meets the White Witch that Tumnus told Lucy about. The White Witch introduces herself to Edmund as the Queen of Narnia. The Witch feeds Edmund enchanted Turkish Delight, which gives Edmund an insatiable desire for the dessert. The Witch uses Edmund's greed and gluttony to convince Edmund to bring back his siblings to meet her. On the way back to the lamppost, which is the border between Narnia and our world, Edmund meets Lucy. Lucy tells Edmund about the White Witch and to be careful of her. Edmund denies any connection between the Witch and the Queen; all he can think about is his desire for more Turkish Delight. Lucy and Edmund return back in their own world and seek out Peter and Susan. Lucy relies on Edmund to support her story about Narnia, but Edmund spitefully tells Peter and Susan that it is a silly story. Peter and Susan are worried that Lucy is insane so they talk to Professor Kirke. The Professor shocks Peter and Susan by arguing that Lucy is telling the truth.

The Pevensie children enter Narnia for the first time together.

One day, to escape some houseguests, the children hide in the magical wardrobe. As a result, they are all transported to Narnia. Lucy leads the other children to Tumnus's home, but a note informs them that Tumnus had been arrested for treason against the Witch. Lucy realizes that this means the Witch knows that Tumnus spared Lucy's life, and that the Witch has taken Tumnus prisoner. Lucy begs her siblings for assistance and after following a friendly robin, the children wander into the woods, and meet Mr. Beaver. Mr. Beaver brings them back to his home, where he explains that the children can't do anything to save Tumnus. The only thing the children can do is join Mr. Beaver on a journey to see Aslan, who has recently appeared. All of the children except Edmund are pleasantly enchanted by the name Aslan. Edmund, however, is horrified by the sound of it. Mr. Beaver, Peter, Susan, and Lucy plot to meet Aslan at the Stone Table the following day, but they soon notice that Edmund has disappeared. Edmund goes to find the Witch to warn her about the children and Aslan's arrival. The Witch is furious to hear that Aslan is back in Narnia and immediately begins plotting to kill the children. The Witch desires to avoid an ancient prophecy that says that four humans will arrive in Narnia and will someday reign over Narnia, overthrowing her evil regime.

The Pevensies have Dinner with the Beavers

All the while, the beavers and the other 3 Pevensies race to the Stone Table, attempting to beat the Witch and her minions. One the way, the 3 Pevensies witness the season changing, something that hasn't happened since the Witch came to power. They meet Father Christmas, who gives them gifts. He explains that with the arriving of Aslan, the witches rule may come to an end soon. They beat the Witch to the Stone Table because since the snow melted, her sled wasn't capable of being used. When the other three Pevensies meet Aslan, they are awed by him, but they quickly grow more comfortable in his presence. They immediately adore him, despite their fear. Aslan promises to do all that he can to save Edmund. Afterwards, he takes Peter aside to show him the castle where he will be king. As they are talking, they hear Susan blowing the magic horn that Father Christmas gave her to her, signaling that she is in danger. Aslan sends Peter to help her. Peter arrives and sees sees a wolf attacking Susan, and stabs it to death with the sword given him by Father Christmas. Aslan sees another wolf vanishing into a thicket, and sends his followers to trail it, hoping it will lead them to the Witch. As the Witch is preparing to kill Edmund, the rescue party arrives. Aslan and his followers rescue Edmund, but are incapable of finding the Witch, who disguises herself as part of the landscape. Edmund is happy to see his siblings. He apologizes and accepts that the Witch is evil.

The Witch and her forces meet with Aslan

The next day, the Witch and Aslan speak and the Witch demands Edmund's life because she says that Edmund is a traitor. The Witch says that according to the Deep Magic of Narnia, a traitor life's is forfeit to the Witch. Aslan doesn't deny this, and he secretly reaches a compromise with her. The Witch appears very pleased, while Aslan seems pensive and depressed. That night, Susan and Lucy observe Aslan grow increasingly gloomy and sad. The sisters are unable to sleep, and they notice that Aslan has disappeared. Susan and Lucy leave Aslan's camp to search for Aslan. When they find Aslan, he tells them they can stay near until he tells them they must leave. Together, Aslan, Susan, and Lucy walk to the Stone Table, where Aslan tells them to leave. Susan and Lucy hide behind some bushes and watch the Witch and a horde of her followers torment, humiliate, and finally kill Aslan. The Witch explains that Aslan sacrificed his life for Edmund. After hearing this, Susan and Lucy stay with Aslan's dead body all night. In the morning, they hear a great cracking noise, and are astounded to see the Stone Table broken. Aslan's body is gone. Suddenly, Susan and Lucy hear Aslan's voice from behind him. Aslan has risen from the dead! Aslan explains to girls because he was innocent of any crime but willingly took a guilty mans place, he was to be resurrected. After this, Aslan carries the girls to the Witch's castle, where they free all the prisoners who have been turned to stone, including Tumnus. Aslan, Susan, and Lucy charge join the battle between Peter's army and the Witch's troops. Peter and his troops are exhausted. Fortunately, Aslan swiftly kills the Witch and Peter's army then defeats the Witch's followers.

Aslan kills the Witch

After Aslan and the Pevensie defeat the Witch and her forces, Narnia enters an era of peace. Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy are crowned Kings and Queens of Narnia by Aslan, bringing an era of prosperity or peace. Around forty years later, the four Pevensies are out riding horses in the forest. They ride past and see the lamp post. Recognizing it from all those years before they get off their horses and approach the lamp post. Magically, they are transported back to England, finding they are the same age they where when they left England. Despite 40 years passing in Narnia, only 30 minutes had passed back in London, becoming young again. They exit the wardrobe and go talk to Professor Kirke, telling him the extent of their adventure. The bewildered professor is astonished and happy for them, as it obviously brought the family closer together.

Aslan emerging from the Wardrobe.

Throughout the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, there are many lessons throughout that I have taken to heart. However, the most important lesson I learned throughout this book was that keeping faith during hard, difficult times is very important to your development as a person. By succumbing to dark times and losing your way, you can sometimes miss out on some of the most important moments and experiencing. Edmund lost his way and sought after something that gave him short-term gratification, pushing all bad and negative thoughts about evil out of his mind in order to obtain his desires. My past self is probably closest to Edmund. I made a lot of mistakes growing up, but I always did my best to fix them. Ignatian discernment is important here as well. It taught me that desires can be good and others are bad. Ignatian discernment is figuring out what desires come from ourselves and which desires come from God acting within us. The desires from God are good and most often the desires from and for ourselves are bad. It's very hard to differentiate between the two. Edmund is unable to tell the difference between what he wants and what God wants for him until later on in the book. It is through this trial and error that both Edmund and I have made progress to figuring out what we both want and what's best for us.

As shown through the plot and characters, the Lion, the Witch and Wardrobe has a lot of symbolism throughout the novel. Even compared to the other books throughout the series, the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe show a lot of themes parallel to the creation story. Lindsey Hays discusses how the White Witch represents Satan, running rampant in the world. Aslan represents Jesus, portraying the savior of this series. However, one thing that I glossed over but was taught by Ms. Hays was the concept that Edmund is the symbol of humanity and his relationship with the queen and her Turkish Delight represents sin and temptation (Hays 2) . The queen's evil spreads across the land, it's tendrils digging into everyone and everything. Edmund's desires for Turkish delight is his temptation. He succumbs to the temptation. This symbolism has two means. Edmund's fall into depravity not only represents our desire to succumb to temptation but it also showcases man's original sin. This is really fascinating because in the first book, you'd think Digory almost falling to the temptation of the apple would symbolizes Eve. However, the apple isn't the source of the sin itself, rather our actions are the sin, our disobeyance of God. So in the first book the apple isn't the source of the sin. Instead it's shown in this book with the Turkish Delight where Edmund gives into temptation. The rest of the book he struggles to find forgiveness and salvation. Only when Aslan, or Jesus, arrives is Edmund (humanity) absolved of it's sins. (Aliser Mcgrath 22).

Book cover for Prince Caspian

The fourth book of the Chronicles of Narnia is Prince Caspian. Our story begins with Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie sitting in a railway station waiting for the train that will whisk them away to boarding school. Luckily for the Pevensie children, a magical force does the whisking instead of the train, and they find themselves in a thick thicket. As any curious children would, they go exploring. They discover that they are on a forested island with a bunch of ruins. Peter figures out that they've returned to Narnia, and that these ruins are their old castle of Cair Paravel from back when they were kings and queens. To prove it, they find their old treasure room where their awesome king and queen treasures are; peter's sword and shield, Lucy's healing cordial and dagger, and Susan's bow and arrows. However, they notice that Susan's horn is not present. The following morning, they rescue a dwarf from being drowned by a couple of human soldiers. The dwarf thanks them and tells them he fights for King Caspian, a Telmarine and the true king of Old and New Narnians alike. The Pevensies are confused, as they are unsure the difference between the Old and New Narnians. They are also unsure what the Telmarines are, as when they were last in Narnia, they were the only humans.

The Pevensie's arriving in Narnia for the second time.

Caspian was the son of the previous Telamrine king, but after the king's death, his uncle, Miraz, ruled as a regent since Caspian was too young. Caspian learned of Old Narnia and the ways of Aslan first from his nurse and then from his tutor Doctor Cornelius. Cornelius taught the young king until Miraz's wife became pregnant. Realizing Caspian's life was in danger, Cornelius snuck him out of the castle and sent him riding toward the southern woods of Narnia. There, he met the Old Narnians, including Trufflehunter the badger; Trumpkin and Nikabrik the dwarfs; a couple talking bears and squirrels; and some centaurs and fauns for good measure. With the rightful king on their side, the Old Narnians decide the time for a civil war has come. It appears to be a good idea, until they start to lose. In a moment of desperation, Caspian blows Susan's horn, given to him by Dr. Cornelius, and Trumpkin heads to Cair Paravel to see if Aslan or some other type of divine assistance has shown up to help. Trumpkin and the Pevensie children agree to get to Caspian's aid as soon as possible. They get lost along the way and suffer hardships, including a non-talking bear, which aren't as friendly as their chit-chatty brothers. When they get to a gorge, Lucy spots Aslan, but the others, except Edmund, don't believe her. They take the hard road and get even more lost.

A valley stream surrounded by Narnian woods

After they go to sleep, Aslan comes to Lucy and tells her to wake the others. Although it was a difficult task to wake up the other campers, she manages, and they all follow Aslan to Caspian's camp. There, they find Nikabrik trying to resurrect the White Witch, source of evil, eternal winter, and enemy of Christmas. Peter and Edmund stop Nikabrik and his corrupt companions, saving Narnia from the White Witch's wrath. With his new army outnumbered, Peter challenges Miraz to single combat, which Miraz accepts because he feels his pride is on the line. Peter and Miraz fight with swords and armor. But their duel is cut short when two Telmarine lords, Glozelle and Sopespian, betray and stab Miraz in the back (literally). The Telmarines fight the Narnians, but with Peter and Edmund in command, the Narnians beat them back to the river. Aslan is busy invading the town of Beruna. With the gods and creatures of old, they scare off the Telmarines who were scared of the old ways. In addition, Aslan and his forces add more creatures to their forces, Narnians and former Telmarines as well.

Prince Caspian is crowned King Caspian

Caspian becomes King of Narnia, and the Old Narnians can again live freely in their land. Aslan allows the Telmarines who wish to remain in Narnia to do so, but teleports the others to an island back to our world. As for Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy, they have to return to their own world as well. For Peter and Susan, it's bittersweet as Aslan says they've become too old to return to Narnia again. It's hinted however that Edmund and Lucy will return one day, though. After this, they return to the railway station, with high hopes for the school year.

Prince Caspian and High King Peter training

There are many lessons present in Prince Caspian that are consistent with the other books within the Chronicles of Narnia. That said, I believe that Prince Caspian is especially interesting and breaks the mold of the other books. The reason why is because Caspian has not done anything wrong and hasn't betrayed what is right, unlike Edmund or Digory, he still has to right the wrongs that were presented in the book. Essentially, Prince Caspian has to right the wrongs his people and uncle have done. This is really relatable to me because I often find myself assisting others right their wrongs and helping in any way I can. In addition to this, I try to have a good heart and help others do what is right and good. I see a lot of Prince Caspian in myself. In addition to the reasons I stated before, from a young age I was always fascinated with the supernatural and animals. It is because of Caspian's curiosity and love for these creatures and the respect of his people that Caspian becomes a great king. I think that in order to be a good leader you need to have the respect and love of others because you love and respect them. Its not a difficult concept, but I think it is something glossed over a lot but is portrayed well in this book. To me Prince Caspian is the kind of person I aspire to be, protecting the innocent and weak and tearing down those who target and hurt these people. When I was younger I found myself at a crossroads, to sit idly by as people I cared about were hurt by others and their actions and the injustice of the world, or I could step up and make a difference by righting the wrongs of others. Going to a Catholic High School, i was able to find the strength through God, Bible, and the Ignatian values instilled in me to stand up and make a difference. Helping others and standing up for injustice is important. Everyone should get their God-given right to respect and dignity. However, this is often not the case. By reflecting, I realized I wanted to be like Caspian, to stand up for the powerless and right the wrongs our society has woven into our thoughts. Prince Caspian is the character within the Narnia trilogy I most aspire to be.

This book is often seen as a classic "good vs. evil" story. However it is more than that. In this book they talk about the Old and New Narnians. The New Narnians have lost their way as they don't believe in Aslan. The Old Narnians remain faithful to Aslan, believing he will come again. The Telmarines believe Aslan and the magical beasts of Narnia don't exist and that they are just children thoughts. Lewis is drawing a parallel to the Christian life in that our faith will always be ridiculed and sneered at by those who will see it as foolishness. Lewis said he drew inspiration from the plight of the Christian's wavering faith. Paul reminds us that “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). In the end, it is the High King Peter who proclaims, “We don’t know when He will act. In His time, no doubt, not ours. In the meantime He would like us to do what we can on our own” (Lewis 13.1). As Christians, what we “do” is to live by faith in the Son of God, who loved us and gave Himself for us (Galatians 2:20). Essentially, our purpose is not to question God and his choices, but rather just keep faith that he will reveal his purpose in due time.

The cover for the Voyage of the Dawn Treader

The next book I will be discussing is The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the fifth book in the Chronicles of Narnia Series. The story begins with Eustace Scrubb, an obnoxious bully and the cousin of the Pevensie children. Eustace is transported along with his cousins Edmund and Lucy Pevensie, to the magical world of Narnia through a painting of a ship they come across. Swallowed up by the picture, the three children find themselves falling into the water beside the Dawn Treader, a voyaging ship built by King Caspian of Narnia for the purpose of traveling east to find seven missing lords exiled by his evil Uncle Miraz. This story takes place a few years after the previous book in Narnia while also taking place a few weeks after the previous book in London. Caspian is also searching for the eastern edge of the world and has brought with him Reepicheep the Talking Mouse, who, according to a prophecy, will find what he seeks in the "utter East." Edmund and Lucy, who are also Narnian royalty, greet their old friend King Caspian. All three children become members of the ship's company, although Eustace does so with bad grace. Eustace clashes with Reepicheep, attempting to use his greater size to tease and torment the mouse. However, Reepicheep's ferocity and honor eventually make it clear to Eustace that he'll have to stop if he doesn't want to find himself in a swordfight.

Reepicheep

The Dawn Treader arrives at the three Lone Islands, Felimath, Doorn, and Avra. When they go ashore on their own for a walk, Eustace, Lucy, Edmund, Caspian, and Reepicheep are captured by slave traders. Caspian is sold to a local nobleman who turns out to be Lord Bern, one of the seven missing lords. With Lord Bern's help, Caspian overthrows the corrupt Governor Gumpas, abolishes the slave trade in the Lone Islands, and rescues his friends. The Dawn Treader's crew restocks and refurbishes the ship. Caspian makes Bern a Duke and installs him as the new ruler of the Lone Islands, which is under Narnian dominion. When the Dawn Treader sets sail again, a violent storm destroys the mast and destroys most of the ship. After several days on low water rations, they land at what appears to be a deserted island to make repairs. While the others are working, Eustace sneaks away to rest and gets lost among foggy hills. Finding himself in a strange valley, he witnesses a dragon die from old age. After making sure the dragon is dead, Eustace ventures into its cave, where his greed is awakened by the sight of a massive amount of treasure. Eustace puts on a gold bracelet and falls asleep lying on a pile of gold coins. When he wakes up he is shocked to discover that he himself has turned into a dragon, with the gold bracelet digging painfully into his now-enormous and scaly arm. Eustace returns to his shipmates and manages to communicate what has happened to him. As a dragon, he is able to help hunt for food and uproot trees for rebuilding the ship.

Eustace as a dragon

When the Dawn Treader is nearly ready to leave, Eustace has a mysterious, miraculous encounter with the great lion, Aslan, who turns him back into a human boy by peeling layers of scaly skin off of him and tossing him into a pool of healing water. Eustace rejoins his shipmates a much more pleasant and helpful person. Examining the bracelet that Eustace was wearing, Caspian realizes that it belonged to one of the seven missing lords, Octesian, who must have been killed by the previous dragon or transformed into one the way Eustace was. After setting sail again, the Dawn Treader is attacked by a sea serpent that tries to encircle the ship in a coil of its snakelike body and squeeze it to pieces. Thanks to the bravery of Reepicheep and Eustace and the efforts of everyone on board, the sea serpent is pushed off the end of the ship, and the tightening loop of its body crashes harmlessly into the sea.

Sea monster Attacking the Dawn treader.

The next island the Dawn Treader lands at appears to be uninhabited. Caspian, Edmund, Eustace, Lucy, and Reepicheep go for a hike and discover a pool of water in a valley. When they sit down to rest beside the pool, they discover the belongings of one of the missing Narnian lords, including his sword and chain mail shirt. They notice a golden statue of a man at the bottom of the pool, and when Edmund tries to measure the depth of the water with his spear, it turns to gold, too. They realize that the water of this pool and spring turns everything to gold. At first Caspian and Edmund become greedy and cruel as they imagine the power this water could bring them, but when Aslan appears briefly on a nearby hillside, they come to their senses. They return to the ship with only a fuzzy memory of their experience, although they remember that they found one of the missing lords. Next, the Dawn Treader lands on an island where no people are visible, but there are clear signs of civilization – short mowed lawns, a water pump, and a large two-story house. Lucy overhears some invisible people plotting to attack the Narnians on their way back to the shore. Strangely, instead of hearing footsteps when they move, Lucy hears large thumps and sees clouds of dust rise. She warns Caspian and the others, and they go down to the beach prepared for a fight. They are met by the invisible Duffers, a tribe of foolish people who agree with everything their equally foolish Chief says. The Chief explains that the island is ruled by a magician who made them ugly; in retaliation, they made themselves invisible. However, the magician has disappeared and they have grown tired of invisibility. Only a young girl can go upstairs in the magician's house and reverse the spell, and they insist that Lucy must do this or they will slaughter the Narnians. Lucy agrees. The Duffers feed them dinner and everyone rests for the night.

Dawn Treader Crew Eating on the beach.

In the morning, Lucy goes upstairs in the magician's house, overcoming her fear of its creepy occult symbols and long-abandoned corridor. Reading the magician's book, she is tempted to use a spell to make herself beautiful. She resists when she sees Aslan's face appear on the page, but she succumbs to the temptation to use another spell to spy on her friends back home. Finally she finds and casts the anti-invisibility spell. Aslan becomes visible beside her and talks to her about eavesdropping. Then he introduces her to the magician Coriarkin, who has also been made visible. Coriarkin feeds Lucy a meal of her favorite foods from back home in England and they talk about the Duffers. Lucy begins to realize that the magician is a kind and thoughtful ruler, and the Duffers are extremely foolish. Looking out the window, she sees that the now-visible Duffers are Monopods – one-footed dwarfs. She tries to explain to them that she doesn't find them ugly, but they won't listen. Coriarkin tells Caspian that a ship with four lords on it stopped at his island several years ago. By comparing the lords Coriarkin met to the ones they have found so far, Caspian figures out that the man who was turned to gold was Lord Restimar. The Narnians and Dufflepuds, as the people come to call themselves, say goodbye and the Dawn Treader sails on.

The Dawn Treader at sea.

Next the Dawn Treader encounters a strange cloud of darkness hovering over the water. Nobody really wants to sail into it, but Reepicheep accuses the men of being chicken, so they decide to take a look inside. The darkness is silent and creepy; the only things visible are lanterns hanging on the ship. The adventurers hear a man screaming in the distance and they bring him on board. He tells them to flee and explains that they are sailing toward the island where dreams come true – not daydreams or hopes, but actual dreams, including their worst nightmares. The crew can't navigate and find themselves to be going around in circles. Each person on the ship starts to hear noises they recognize from their worst dreams. Lucy calls on Aslan and a white albatross appears and leads the ship out of the black cloud. The man they have rescued introduces himself as Lord Rhoop, another of the exiled Narnian lords. He begs Caspian never to make him return to the Dark Island, but he has nothing to worry about – when they turn around, the darkness has disappeared as though it never existed.

Dark clouds from the island of dreams.

The Dawn Treader lands on a beautiful, hilly island. When they go ashore, Caspian and his friends discover a clearing surrounded by pillars, in the center of which is a long stone table covered in a delicious feast. At the table are the last three of the missing lords. They have fallen into an enchanted sleep, and their hair and beards have grown to cover the table in a tangled mass. Caspian, Lucy, Edmund, Eustace, and Reepicheep sit at the table all night, waiting to see what will happen. Near dawn a beautiful blonde girl in a blue dress comes out of a door in the hillside. She greets them and welcomes them to Aslan's Table, asking why they aren't eating. They explain that they were concerned that the food had put the lords into an enchanted sleep, but she tells them the lords have never tasted it. Caspian asks how to break the spell, and the girl says her father will teach him. At that moment her father, an old man with silver hair who seems to emit light, emerges from the hillside. His name is Ramandu. Ramandu and his daughter face the east and sing as the sun rises. A flock of birds flies out of the sun and consumes all the leftover food. Ramandu and his daughter explain that the lords argued about whether to sail further east, sail back home, or stay on the island, and when one of them touched the Stone Knife lying on the table they were enchanted. (It's the same stone knife that was used to kill Aslan in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe). To break the spell, they must sail as far east as possible and leave at least one person behind. Caspian agrees to do this, and with the help of Drinian and Rhince, he convinces all but one of the crew to come with him.

Aslan's feast.

The Dawn Treader sets out to sail to the extreme eastern edge of the world. At one point, Lucy sees warlike Sea People in the water, but Drinian warns her not to tell the men about them so that the men aren't tempted to jump overboard. Reepicheep, feeling challenged by the warlike King of the Sea People, does leap into the ocean, but is quickly distracted by discovering that the water is fresh and sweet, not salty. This is a sign that the prophecy spoken over him when he was a baby is coming true. Everyone drinks the sweet water and feels extremely healthy. As they get farther east, they get closer to the sun (Narnia is flat, meaning they are at the edge of the world) and everything gets almost unbearably bright, but drinking the water seems to help them withstand the light. The ship sails into a mass of white water lilies growing in all directions. Soon, they come to a place too shallow for the ship to continue. Caspian wants to go on with Reepicheep, but Aslan reminds him that it is his duty go to back and rule Narnia. Reepicheep, Edmund, Eustace, and Lucy set out in the boat, while the Dawn Treader sails back west toward Ramandu's island.

Aslan, Caspian, Reepicheep, Edmund, Lucy, and Eustace on the border of Aslan's country.

For three days, the four remaining adventurers journey east. Eventually their boat runs aground in a shallow area, and they find themselves looking at a wall of water 30 feet high flowing upwards. Behind it they believe they can see the enormous green mountains of Aslan's country. Reepicheep goes on toward the wall of water in his small boat. He is borne upwards and disappears. For reasons they can't explain, the three children get out of the boat and wade south. Eventually they come to a rolling green plain where the sky comes down to meet the grass as a glassy blue wall. They meet a lamb who offers them a meal of roasted fish and then reveals himself to be Aslan. Aslan sends the children back to their own world, explaining that they must get to know him there under another name, alluding to Aslan being different form of Jesus. He tells Edmund and Lucy that they will never return to Narnia but leaves open the possibility that Eustace might come back some day.

Schematics of the Dawn Treader

The Voyage of the Dawn treader is a really cool adventure. The Dawn Treader is not necessarily about redemption like the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe where we follow Edmund's difficult path from failure to redemption. Instead, it is about personal growth and how the things that are spur of the moment and unexpected can lead to the most development and growth for an individual. Eustace starts out as being a bully, hurting others around him to take out his angry and hurt. However, the more time he spends aboard the Dawn Treader, we see more character growth. He begins to do what's right and good for the betterment of the crew, rather than succumbing to his previous nature. Eustace Scrubb is a fascinating character because over the course of the book we see his transformation from a young, rebellious and mean spirited kid into a respectable man. Although his appearance on the outside has not changed at all, his development on the inside is undeniable. He leaves Narnia a better person. This applies to me because when I was younger I was a very troubled child. I caused a lot of unnecessary problems for my parents, causing myself and those I cared about a lot of pain and anguish. Although I didn't know it at the time, I had used my Ignatian discernment to fix this issue. I sought guidance from God, on why I was acting this way. Through much reflection, I realized that I had to change my ways, or else I would push everyone I cared about away. It was during this time that I believe God gave me the strength and fortitude too make a change in myself, the way I lived, and the way I treated others. The adventure and the destination walk hand in hand; they are equal in importance. Eustace changed because he wanted to, realizing he would push people away. I found Eustace to be an inspiration for self betterment.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader shows the transformation of Eustace Scrubb, showing is dynamic change when he finds Aslan. When he originally turns into a dragon, it shows a rough and ugly exterior. This reflects his ugly personality and mannerisms (gotquestions.org). He tries to shed his skin, along with his dragonish nature, by bathing himself in the pool, but with no success, a clear picture of the self-effort of man to cleanse himself of sin through works of some sort, referencing that human laws will not cleanse, you but only the words of God (Romans 3:20). When he is finally confronted by Aslan, the great lion of Narnia, it is Aslan himself who must remove the rough, scaly dragon skin with his claws. “The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart,” Eustace explains (Lewis 87) . Aslan then dresses him in new clothes, the whole process being symbolic of the Christian becoming a new creation in Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17). From that point forward, Eustace begins to be a better boy. He still his lapses in judgement, but his transformation has begun. It shows that through Christ, we can be born anew.

The last book I will be discussing is The Last Battle, the seventh and final installment of the Chronicles of Narnia series. It takes place 2500 years after the events that happened in Narnia in the Magician's Nephew. This book also takes place 250 years after the event of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader in Narnia. Narnia has been at peace for generations, but in the north trouble is brewing. An ape named Shift has persuaded a sweet, but simple-minded donkey called Puzzle to dress in a lion costume and impersonate Aslan. Shift uses this deception to increase his power and riches, eventually cutting down the Talking Trees and convincing many Narnians to serve the Calormenes. King Tirian and his friend, Jewel the Unicorn, hear news of what is happening, but they are not fooled by the farce. The Calormene warlord Rishda tries to convince everyone that Aslan and the Calormene god Tash are the same. Tash is the god of the Calormenes, an evil god that supports everything Aslan does not (evil deeds, murder, deception, war, pain, etc.). Tirian accuses Rishda of lying after he claims Aslan and Tash are one in the same. As punishment, he is tied to a tree. Tirian calls Aslan for help and has a vision of Lord Digory, Lady Polly, High King Peter, King Edmund, Lord Eustace, Queen Lucy, and Lady Jill. Susan doesn’t appear because she has stopped believing in Narnia.

Shift dressing Puzzle as Aslan

A week later, Jill and Eustace arrive, rescue Jewel and release the king. Puzzle joins them because he realizes what he’s done. They also save a band of dwarves, but the dwarves have lost their faith in Aslan. Tirian learns that Rishda has accidentally summoned Tash, and the Narnian army has been killed in battle. Tirian and his soldiers advance on the stable where Tash is kept to attempt to expose Shift’s deception. Rishda’s men force many people into the stable to confront Tash so that they can weed out the weak, and a few of his soldiers join Tirian. Tirian and Rishda’s forces fight again, but most of Tirian’s soldiers are killed in the battle. Tirian manages to throw Shift in the stable and Tash swallows the ape whole. Rishda offers the remaining Narnians as a sacrifice to appease Tash. Tirian drags Rishda into the stable but they find themselves in a beautiful land. Tash appears just as the rest of the family from England does and by calling on Aslan, Peter banishes Tash to his realm.

Tash

The kings and queens witness the end of the world and Aslan appears to judge the faithful. The previous battles were a test to see who would remain faithful until the very end. Those who can see through Shift’s deception are rewarded by entrance into Aslan’s “true Narnia,” the final kingdom where they will live side by side with him forever. Talking animals that were not faithful turn into regular animals and dragons eat the vegetation. Father Time brings down all the stars and the sun and moon. Peter closes the door as Aslan directs them to walk further into true Narnia. They find the gates with characters from the past such as Reepicheep to greet them, and they can see real England. Aslan tells them that the train they were on in England has crashed and everyone has died. Susan, who was not on the train, is the only survivor. The story ends with the revelation that this is only the beginning of the one true story.

Aslan

The greatest lesson I have learned from the Chronicles of Narnia books is the lesson I learned in the last one. That goodness and God will always triumph over evil. Terrible atrocities happen in the world, but we must keep the faith. This was and still is a difficult concept for me to understand. How can so much hatred and malevolence exist in a world where we are made to be like God. It isn't like God is like Tash, the incarnation of evil. God is all good, it is us people that succumb to earthly pleasures and desires, leading to evil. Believing in a God that is "all-loving", "all-powerful" and "all- knowing" is a difficult concept to grasp. How can all these terrible things happen? That's where I used Ignaition discernment to help me along. God exists in everyone an everything! It's not a question of if he is there. It is a question of if we can see Him. Many people believe that God has abandoned us, as why else whould terrible things happen in our world? However, it is human nature that causes most of these things. So yes, bad things happen, but it is in these bad moments, these moments of true weakness that we see God. Don't justify the bad things that happen in the world with the expression, "It was part of God's plan". This is poor rationalization and a terrible excuse. Rather, try to see the good that comes from atrocities. Try to find God in everything. If something terrible happens, see God in your neighbor helping or the smile of a child, or the hug of a friend. God is present in all things. For a good amount of time, I struggled with rationalizing the bad things that happened in the world. My faith faltered and I struggled to justify how God could let things like this happen. However, it was during this faltering I remembered the story of the Footprints in the Sand, how God carries us through these difficult times and these moments of faltering faith. Essentially what I learned from this book and my usage of Ignatian discernment is how good will always triumph evil, no matter how uphill the battle is.

Robin Baker has numerous many articles, many of which elaborate on what he believes C.S. Lewis meant in his books, especially the Chronicles of Narnia. Baker explains that C.S.. Lewis discusses death frequently in his books openly and frankly. "Death was part of life. It is only for our world that death is so distant and remote. We hold it at bay in hopes that it may not come. It will come. Lewis provides me with hope in the midst of pain. Hope that this life is only one experience. Hope that there is more to life than material wealth and existence. Hope that we will see those we love who have gone before us. Hope that, in Christ, death has been conquered, and through that door that the real story begins." (Baker 6). Baker explains that we all deep down fear death, fear of the unknown, hoping for it to never come. He explains that Lewis wants to show that it will come, it's unavoidable, but it's not a bad thing because it isn't the end. Baker furthers this by sharing the last lines of the Last Battle, wrapping up Lewis' work with Chronicles of Narnia. "And as he spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was on the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story, which no one on earth has read; which goes on forever; in which every chapter is better than the one before" (Lewis 124).

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Created with images by Mark Rabe - "Lamp post with new snowfall" • reginasphotos - "rock new zealand sea"

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