Zi71bFS9nQHnivtvUJquhejTHIQ The Story Factory Reading Zone: Day 2 of The Magician's Nephew: Meeting Aslan

Friday, 16 July 2010

Day 2 of The Magician's Nephew: Meeting Aslan

Having now read to the end of the book, I'd like to reflect on the different reactions characters had to meeting Aslan, as well as the world of Narnia itself. There seem to be five main types of reaction, ranging from that of The Witch at one end to that of Polly and the Cabbie on the other.

Reaction 1: The Witch
The witch's immediate reaction is to challenge Aslan. She believes herself stronger than him and able to conquer his will. When she finds that she cannot win a face-to-face battle she leaves silently, but with the intention of becoming stronger still and subverting his followers in the meantime. Aslan tells us here that her ploys have brought her what she desires, but not what is good for her. She is unable to see the bad side-effects however, and so would see no reason to repent. She seems to personify devil or even evil itself, but I wonder whether there isn't an element of her in some people as well. Is she the person who sees God and yet not only rejects him but actively argues that others should do so as well?

Reaction 2: Uncle Andrew
Uncle Andrew briefly sees the goodness in Aslan's song but, once presented with who is making the noise, refuses to hear it any longer. To him it becomes gibberish, non-sensical and dangerous. Aslan is simply an animal, and a dangerous one at that. The result of these beliefs is that he sees all the well-intentioned actions of the Narnians in a fearful manner and they become dangerous to him because he can longer communicate his wishes. As Aslan says, he blocks what he does not wish to see. Aslan can do nothing but give him rest as acceptance needs to come from within. This is probably the easiest character to see an equivilant of in our own world.

Reaction 3: Digory
Digory wants to believe, but finds it hard. He is fearful of Aslan at first because he knows that he has done wrong. Yet he is brave enough to confront him with the needs of another. Hedoubts himself, but finds reassurance through Aslan. He is faced with temptation and yet finds the determination in himself to overcome it and follow the will of Aslan. It is not an easy path for him and yet it is one that will ultimately bring protection to the whole of Narnia, as well as rewarding him with his greatest desire. Since this desire is at one with Aslan's, it is one which will also bring him true happiness. No doubt many Christians walk the path of Digory, so it should be conforting to remember that his actions unknowingly lead to the construction of rather special wardrobe

Reaction 4: Polly
Polly's reactions are probably the least stated in the story- they are very important however. Polly silently watches as Aslan completes his work. She is wary of him and seeks reassurances, yet she does not back away and answers at his bequest. She is the friend of Digory, helping him complete his work. She does not interfere when the Witch tempts him, knowing that it is not her place, but she is ready to be there once again when he needs her. How many Polly's do you know, silently striving to help others complete God's will?

Reaction 5: The Cabbie
 Probably the most interesting quotable passage has to be this one:
"Son", said Aslan to the Cabbie. "I have known you long. Do you know me?"
"Well, no, sir," said the Cabby. "Leastwise, not in an ordinary manner of speaking. Yet I feel somehow, if I may make so free, as 'ow we've met before"
"It is well," said the Lion. "You know me better than you think you know, and you shall live to know me better yet"
In this way, The Cabbie's meeting with Aslan is not a usual one. It seems to me that there are two possible interpretations of this passage: 1) C.S. Lewis is pointing on to us that the Cabbie knows God in our world and, since this is the case, he must also know Aslan; or 2) It is possible to know God in our world without realising it, i.e. without calling yourself a Christian or any other religion. Now it strikes me that the 2nd idea might be contraversal to some, but I put it out there as a possible intended interpretation.
Whatver the intended interpretation of the passage, the Cabbie's reaction to Aslan is clearly as the King of Narnia. He seems full of wonder, more awed than fearful. And he is ready to do Aslan's will, even if it seems beyond his abilities. He promises to do his best to everything that Aslan says, and is justly rewarded for his loyalty. He is to be the rock and the foundation of Narnia!
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