Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Silver Chair (The Chronicles of Narnia (Publication Order) #4) by C.S. Lewis

One last toodeloo to my childhood memories of acting out the Narnia books. I never read "The Last Battle" or final book in the series because I didn't want it to end. "The Silver Chair" (book #6 in chronological order) led my friend and I to recreate the "Underworld" in the sewer system. We lived on a nature center and the storm sewers ran from the streets into its marshy ground. We could crouch and walk through the inky black tunnels pretending we were like Eustace, Jill, Prince Rilian, and Puddleglum trying to escape from the wicked witch.

Eustace Scrubb and Jill Pole escape from bullies at school by going through a door into Narnia. Jill meets Aslan and is given four signs that she must follow to find Prince Rilian. She keeps messing up the signs and becomes alone and lost right away in the story. She is desperately thirsty but finds a huge lion guarding the only river. The Christian symbolism is pretty obvious in the scene where Jill wants a drink of water and Aslan is standing there making her afraid to get the water. Jill has wronged Eustace just like the Samaritan women that went to the well to draw water and found Jesus. Both admit their sin and drink from the water and are cleansed from the shame of their past actions. For Jill it is being a show-off toward Eustace that causes him to fall off a cliff. For the Samaritan woman it is infidelity.

Eventually Jill meets up with Eustace and they meet different characters that help them on their quest to find Prince Rilian, King Caspian's missing son. Again the mix of myths and Christian theology make for an interesting medley. The giants and Earthmen reminded me of Norse mythology. The serpent-like witch is a mix of fantasy and Satan in the Bible. Eustace driving a thorn through Aslan's paw to drip blood in the water where the dead Caspian lies is a Christian symbol of hope in the face of death. Lewis shows characters throughout the series that believe in Aslan and are not be afraid of death.

The plot is fairly predictable in this tale. The reader knows well in advance what the giants want to do to Jill and Eustace, as well as, who the mysterious knight is. The curse is obvious too. The witch is conveniently away at the climax of when the threesome must decide what to believe, and yet, inspite of these negatives, I was swept up by the storyline enjoying the humor and goofy minor characters. The dwarf Trumpkin can't hear a word anyone says and the wordplay is pretty funny. He runs Narnia while Caspian is away and is fat, pompous, and loveable. I preferred the creature characters in this book over the humans.

Overall, this book didn't enchant me as much as other ones - everyone seems to have his or her favorite Narnia book. While I liked the adventures and minor characters in "The Silver Chair," Jill was too whimpy for my tastes. I tend to like stronger female characters. Lewis is too stereotypical for me creating fragile girls that was the image in the 1900's. Some reviewers are offended by some of his insensitive comments, but I didn't come across so many that I was turned off. He vacillates a bit. For instance, Susan is a great archer, but is more afraid than the boys in dangerous situations. Lucy is so dang nice and kind, I found it hard to relate to her. I liked her and wanted her vial of healing potion for all the scrapes I got horsing around with my best friend, but I couldn't identify with her as a kiddo. Jill Pole in this book is a bit of a snob who learns to take responsibility for her actions, but she came across as frail and out of the action. She lacked a specific talent or skill found in the two female Pevensie kids and I didn't like that as a young reader, (although I don't think I could articulate that feeling if you had asked me as a nine-year-old). Lewis does a terrific job at creating unique voices found in Grimfeather, the owl that draws out his "o's"; Puddleglum who has a pessimistic outlook, but puts a good face on whatever the task or fate; and the giants, who call Jill and Eustace "poppets" and treat them like dolls. The action is nonstop and the plot solid.

4 Smileys

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