Session 24: March 24th, 2010 – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, chps 7-10

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Session #24 was held on Wednesday, March 24th, [Correction] 3-5 pm. We  heard summaries of chapters 7-10 of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and discused them. We began reading chapter 11, and heard a brief report about another C.S. Lewis book, Till We Have Faces.

Update: Today we discussed the following topics:

  1. dragons as archetypes
  2. when the children hear the name “Aslan“, “everyone felt quite different… At the name of Aslan each one of the children felt something jump in its inside. Edmund felt a sensation of horror. Peter felt suddenly brave and adventurous. Susan felt as if some delicious smell or some delightful strain of music had just floated by her. And Lucy got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realize that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer.” Have you ever had such an experience?
  3. in single file 1列縦隊で
  4. “Safe? … Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
  5. Lilith, Adam’s first wife, according to legend. I see that, according to Wikipedia, there is only one possible place in the Hebrew bible which might be referring to Lilith.
  6. When the children discover that Edmund is missing, their first instinct is to look for him, but Mr. Beaver says no: “‘Don’t you see that the only chance of saving either him or yourselves is to keep away from her [the Witch]’…. ‘Oh, can no one help us?’ wailed Lucy.  ‘Only Aslan,’ said Mr. Beaver, ‘ we must go on and meet him. That’s our only chance now.'” Here Lewis introduces the idea that one’s first instincts may not be always the best thing to do: the children have to learn that there is a higher value, something more important, than simply finding Edmund: what needs to happen is to save him. Imagine if the children did look for Edmund and did find him, what then? Perhaps he would have refused to come with them, because he preferred to be with the White Witch (hoping that she would make him a Prince and give him more Turkish Delight).
  7. (Chapter 9). Edmund was not 100% bad:
    1. he did not actually want “his brother and sisters to be turned into stone.” He pretended he believed that she wouldn’t do anything very bad to them.
    2. “At least, that was the excuse he made in his own mind for what he was doing. It wasn’t a very good excuse, however, for deep down inside him he really knew that the White Witch was bad and cruel.”

    We discussed “sin”, and the Christian idea that you must first accept that you are a sinner before you can become a Christian (i.e. accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Master). When I was a high school student, some of my friends became Christians, and they were always telling me about this; this feeling of sin was something I did not feel at all, and I could not accept it. C.S. Lewis wrote “The [second] greatest barrier I have met [in presenting the Christian Faith to modern unbelievers] is the almost total absence from the minds of my audience of any sense of sin. . . . The early Christian preachers could assume in their hearers, whether Jews, Metuentes or Pagans, a sense of guilt. . . . Thus the Christian message was in those days unmistakably the Evangelium, the Good News. It promised healing to those who knew they were sick. We have to convince our hearers of the unwelcome diagnosis before we can expect them to welcome the news of the remedy.” [from http://hope.edu/academic/english/schakel/tillwehavefaces/chapter12.html Lewis, “Difficulties in Presenting the Christian Faith to Modern Unbelievers,” Lumen Vitae, 3 (1948); reprinted as “God in the Dock,” in God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics, ed. Walter Hooper (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1970), pp. 243-44 (in Britain, Undeceptions: Essays on Theology and Ethics, ed. Walter Hooper [London: Geoffrey Bles, 1971], p. 200)]

  8. (Chapter 10). Mrs. Beaver refuses to panic, and remains practical. I cannot think of specific examples now, but this kind of character may be considered typically British. Although I’m sure such characters exist in other cultures, the combination of stoicism (link to Japanese Wikipedia) with good humour is a character trait traditionally highly valued in British culture.
  9. How can there be a Father “Christmas” if it is “always winter and never Christmas” in Narnia? asked a participant. Quite right! Probably children who read this book will not question this, though. Also, of course, how can there be a Father “Christmas” in another world into which Jesus Christ has not been born? Perhaps Lewis was appealing to a basic human sense that “always winter” and never any fun or celebration, is somehow wrong; that there should be some happiness and joy, even in the middle of winter.
  10. The children receive 3 gifts from Father Christmas: a sword and shield for Peter, a bow and arrows and a horn for Susan, and a dagger and a vial of healing cordial for Lucy. It is part of the convention of fairy tales for the hero to receive  magical gifts. In addition, the gifts are not purely personal toys, but are given to the children for the purpose of helping them to help others. What if Edmund had been there? Would he have received a gift? What would he have received? Would Father Christmas have given him Turkish Delight?
  11. (Chapter 11). Slowly, Edmund realizes that the Witch never “intended to make him a King.”
  12. The White Witch is not only cruel, but she is a puritan: she gets angry at the gifts Father Christmas gave to the squirrel family: “What is the meaning of all this gluttony, this waste, this self-indulgence?”

We also heard a brief summary of C.S. Lewis’ novel Till We Have Faces (thank you, Okabayashi-san!). Someone asked the meaning of the title. The title comes from a single line in the book, near the end, when the main character, Orual, asks “How can the gods meet us face to face till we have faces?” In a letter to Dorothy Conybeare, Lewis explained ‘the idea behind the title was that a human being must become real before it can expect to receive any message from divine beings; “that is, it must be speaking with its own voice (not one of its borrowed voices), expressing its actual desires (not what it imagines that it desires), being for good or ill itself, not any mask, veil, or persona.“‘ [Constance Babington Smith, Letters to a Sister from Rose Macaulay, 1964, 261; also at Hooper, Companion (see IX) 252, quoted in Wikipedia.]

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One thought on “Session 24: March 24th, 2010 – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, chps 7-10”

  1. As for No.4, the words by Mr Beaver,”Safe…? Who said anything about safe?…” are interesting. He calls Aslan “The King of Beast”and ” the Lion”; thus he creates in the mind of the reader an image of Aslan as a heroic creature who dares to save others. What we’ve learned about the effective usage of capital letter works here again.

    By the way, I remembered a tanka poem,
    「父として幼いき者は見上げ居りぬ願わくば黄金(こんじき)の獅子とうつれよ」佐佐木 幸綱(Sasaki Yukitsuna).
    In this case, the father ( the writer) wants to be seen as a “Golden Lion” by his children, and this word is sandwiched between「願いわくば」and 「うつれよ」which both express his strong desire. This indicates his observation of his sheepish side.

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