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Prince Caspian: A Discussion

There are spoilers for PRINCE CASPIAN: THE RETURN TO NARNIA in this post. ( Don’t click the “View Spoiler” link below if you don’t want to be spoiled for THE LAST BATTLE.)

Prince Caspian: A Discussion

PRINCE CASPIAN is the second book in the Narniad (in published order). I finished reading it for the Narniathon21 I’m participating in about a week ago. (The Narniathon’s hosted by Chris at Calmgrove.)

I really love this installment of the Narniad. I love that all the Pevensies are back in Narnia. I think it’s interesting to see Narnia in ruin and that the story takes place many years after the Pevensie children ruled as kings and queens in Cair Paravel.

I also love the new characters, except Nikabrik. I wanted to strangle him, especially when Peter, Edmund, and Trumpkin happened upon the council in Aslan’s How. It frustrated me so much that they waited as long as they did to go into the meeting. My favorite new character is Reepicheep. I him. I love him more in upcoming stories, though.

I forgot that the ending of PRINCE CASPIAN is just as abrupt as LWW, but for whatever reason, it doesn’t bother me like it does in LWW. I think it’s because I love the last line:

‘Bother!’ said Edmund. ‘I’ve left my new torch in Narnia.’

I think that line is rather funny whereas LWW tries to end on a more serious note.

As with LWW, a couple things regarding the allegory stood out to me more during this read. I thought it was interesting that Lucy, the youngest, sees and believes Aslan has returned first. This reminded me of how pure a child’s faith is compared to an adult. Children believe so easily and so strongly (e.g. Santa Clause, Easter Bunny) whereas adults are much more skeptical and cynical. When I was a child, I believed wholeheartedly in the tenets of my own faith. Now, as an adult, I have to work at it much harder. CS Lewis captures my own journey with faith and religion perfectly in the chapter “The Return of the Lion.”

The other thing I noticed about the allegory this time was the timeframe of Narnia and Aslan’s return. In the Christian faith, most believe that Christ will come again to deliver the faithful when the world has fallen into sin, ruin, war, and chaos. When the Pevensies return to Narnia in PRINCE CASPIAN, it has been thousands of years and Narnia is in ruins and war. As the children and Trumpkin head to Caspian and his army, Aslan returns to help the Narnians who believe in Old Narnia.

The parts of the Narniad that don’t make any sense to me start to crop up in PRINCE CASPIAN. At the end, Aslan tells Peter and Susan they’re too old to return to Narnia. If Aslan is Christ, or as CS Lewis says:

Since Narnia is a world of Talking Beasts, I thought He [Christ] would become a Talking Beast there, as He became a man here. I pictured Him becoming a lion there because (a) the lion is supposed to be the king of beasts; (b) Christ is called “The Lion of Judah” in the Bible; (c) I’d been having strange dreams about lions when I began writing the work.

Companion to Narnia: Revised Edition

Then why would Peter and Susan outgrow being in Aslan’s presence? View Spoiler » You can see how much CS Lewis’ choice here bothers me. I am trying to keep an open mind as I read through the series a second time, but it’s hard in these instances because they bother me a lot.

Have you read PRINCE CASPIAN: THE RETURN TO NARNIA? Did you like it? Why? Why not?

About Jenni Elyse


Hi, I'm Jenni. I'm a queer eclectic reader with she/her pronouns. I mostly read fiction and I favor fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, mystery, thrillers, and romance. The more kissing the better!
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10 replies
  1. Christopher Lovegrove
    Christopher Lovegrove says:

    Pleased you’re joining in with Narniathon21, Jenni Elyse, and hope you’re relishing it! I haven’t got as far considering why Peter and Susan might be excluded from visiting Narnia in future, but there might be various opaque lines of reasoning applied here. One could be based on Matthew 19 where would-be followers of Jesus are exhorted to “receive the kingdom of God as a little child”. As Peter and Susan advance further in their teens maybe their expectations are to, as St Paul advised, “put aside childish things” and perhaps jettisoning the wonder and imagination that first took them there. But I could well be completely off track here!

    Reply
    • Jenni Elyse
      Jenni Elyse says:

      Thanks, Chris! I am very much enjoying the Narniathon. I’m glad I’m getting a chance to reread the series, to look at it again, and form new opinions.

      I like your thinking, and I still don’t think it’s a good reason for them to outgrow Aslan’s presence. It’s like what I said about Lucy and faith earlier. As long as we act as a little child, come unto him with faith and follow him, then we can be counted as Christ’s followers. Peter and Susan may not have believed that Aslan had returned at first, but they did eventually and that’s what matters in the end, at least that’s how it is with my own faith in Jesus Christ.

      Reply
      • Calmgrove
        Calmgrove says:

        Sorry, I somehow missed your reply but hope it’s better late than never to acknowledge it! As you probably have guessed I’m no believer but am interested in the way Lewis tries and often manages to reconcile Christian themes with more pagan ones, from the classical and Norse eras in particular. I rather suspect he deliberately tries to present the whole Narnia experience as from a child’s perspective not to dissimilar to his own: his boyhood interest in Norse myth and Greek and Roman gods and nature spirits easily conflated talking animals and Father Christmas, much as modern children might find no disparity believing simultaneously in tooth fairies and in Santa Claus.

        That said, I too am curious as to why Peter and Susan would be personae non gratae in Narnia after PC: maybe it’s a reflection of Lewis’s own loss of faith — the older siblings growing out of acceptance in what feels like a fairytale world — before he himself returned to it later in life.

        Reply
        • Jenni Elyse
          Jenni Elyse says:

          Yes, of course, your response is appreciated. I really admire that you’re willing to discuss religion and faith even though you’re not a believer. A lot of non-believers I’ve come across would just throw their hands up at the discussion.

          I didn’t realize CS Lewis lost his faith. If he did, then some of his choices in the series makes more sense to me. I may not agree with his choices and I can still appreciate them.

          Reply
  2. Greg
    Greg says:

    I haven’t read this in ages.

    Maybe Aslan means they’re too old to return to the childlike sense of wonder that Narnia embodies, or to the simpler faith that childhood often represents (and which you refer to). I’m not sure though, and am probably off base, since I haven’t read this in forever…

    I saw a commentary once on Susan and being old to return- I wish I remembered where I saw that because it had some fascinating points.

    the part about Lewis having dreams of lions- now THAT’S interesting

    Reply
    • Jenni Elyse
      Jenni Elyse says:

      I can get behind this theory. It makes sense with the allegory and rules within the Narniad. I’m not sure if that’s what CS Lewis meant when he wrote that scene, but it works. Thank you for your insight!

      Isn’t what Lewis said about his dreams interesting? I’d love to know what gave him the idea for the Narniad in the first place. I’m sure his dreams were part of it.

      Reply
  3. ireadthatinabook
    ireadthatinabook says:

    I believe the explanation for why they can’t return given in the Dawn Treader makes most sense, that as they grow older they have to start to search for Aslan in their own world. It is not perfect, I suspect another reason is that Leẃis wanted his main characters to be fairly young, but I think it works.

    Reply
  4. Anne@HeadFullofBooks
    Anne@HeadFullofBooks says:

    I wrote completely uninspired answers to Calmgrove’s questions. I ended up devolving into a problem about maps. Egads. Hopefully next month I’ll do better. Anyway, I have often wondered about Susan and Peter and why they can’t return to Narnia (until much later). It does seem to have something to do with childlike faith and not over-thinking everything. I appreciated your insights here and on you post over at Calmgrove.

    Reply
    • Jenni Elyse
      Jenni Elyse says:

      Thanks! I appreciate your comments as well. I’m excited to go read what you have to say about Prince Caspian. I think going into a problem with maps is just fine. 😀

      Reply

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