Let's Talk Narnia: The Silver Chair

By Saturday, March 05, 2016 , ,

Welcome back to Narnia chat! Can’t believe we’re almost done with these. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed them and hope you have as well. I know I personally can’t ever have enough Narnia talk. So if you share this feeling and happen to be new here, feel free to check out the previous discussions :) –
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
The Magician’s Nephew
The Horse and His Boy
Prince Caspian
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Today we come to The Silver Chair, book 6 in the series and a continued account of Eustace Scrubb’s adventures in Narnia. He became a begrudging extra on Edmund and Lucy’s last adventure in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, but by the end of that story, he’d changed quite a bit for the better. Now that his cousins have outgrown Narnia, Eustace carries on with the work for humans there.

It begins one ordinary day during recess – Eustace and his friend Jill Pole stumble into Narnia, and they’re tasked with rescuing Prince Rilian, the lost son of King Caspian the Tenth, who the Pevensies helped to enthrone. By Narnian time, it’s been decades since Eustace’s adventure on the Dawn Treader, so Caspian is now an elderly man. And a mysterious evil Witch, often disguised as a green serpent, is responsible for the death of Caspian’s queen and the disappearance of Prince Rilian. Aslan charges Jill with several “signs” that will guide them on their journey, and they soon set out with their assigned companion, an odd creature called a marsh-wiggle whose name is Puddleglum. 

Favorite Characters

Aslan: As usual. But in this book, he’s one of the few who are consistently likable, and his role reminds me so much of the patient forgiveness of God. Mainly because Jill and Eustace drive me nuts much of the time, I greatly admire his persevering love. As you may expect when they start out on the journey, Jill promptly forgets all the signs Aslan has given her, and throughout, Jill and Eustace’s bickering and stubbornness cost them time and a few close safety calls. But Aslan never condemns and never gives up on them. How thankful I am for this attribute of our Lord! 

Puddleglum: Who doesn’t love this guy? I’d argue that he’s the most unique and creative character in any of the Narnia books, and despite his Debby-downer outlook, he frequently is the only sane one of the traveling trio. He’s smart and resourceful even if he’s pessimistic, and he often is the one who gets them all out of bad scrapes. Plus, his gloominess can take a humorous turn, giving an excellent comic relief effect. 

Favorite Scenes

Aslan Gives Jill the Signs
The thing I love about this book is that it’s so symbolic of life with the Lord. His Word clearly gives us instructions and guidelines for living, but so often, distractions and temptations deter us. And His plan will take us places we never imagined. Those are the things that come to mind particularly in this scene. Aslan has to tell Jill the signs many times and admonishes her to know them by heart, for the journey ahead will be difficult. His directions to her remind me of the passages in Psalms that tell us to have the Word hidden in our hearts: 

“Remember, remember the signs. Say them to yourself when you wake in the morning and when you lie down at night, and when you wake in the middle of the night. And whatever strange things may happen to you, let nothing turn your mind from following the signs…And the signs which you have learned here will not look at all as you expect them to look, when you meet them there. That is why it is so important to know them by heart and pay no attention to appearances. Remember the signs and believe the signs.” 

Meeting and then Escaping from the Giants
First of all, this whole sequence in the giants’ territory is fun to read. The descriptions of the large sizes of everything are a treat for the imagination and pretty funny. But of course, when the children and Puddleglum realize they need to escape, the suspense and excitement amp up. What’s more, it bonds the three of them in a way they hadn’t been up until this point. And I really admire their sneakiness as they fool the giants and figure out a getaway plan. The ensuing chase makes it that much more thrilling!

Rilian’s Rescue
Here’s one scene that keeps you guessing. And I won’t lie – it upsets me. I remember once listening to it on radio drama in my car and literally pounding the steering wheel in frustration. When Jill and Eustace and Puddleglum first discover Rilian, he seems normal, even if a little eccentric. Of course, it soon becomes clear who he is, and once he’s released, his wild destruction of the Silver Chair that bound him makes one of the most epic moments of the book. Then there’s the Witch’s attempt to deceive them and Puddleglum’s valiant move to stop her, and the spellbinding battle with the Witch in her serpent form. Can I just say – HURRAH for Puddleglum! What a hero. His comeback to her smooth trickery and insistence that Narnia is only make-believe is perfection: 

“Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things – trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself…Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play-world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia. So…we’re leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for the Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that’s a small loss if the world’s as dull a place as you say.” 

What a champ! But perhaps my favorite point in this whole sequence comes when Rilian is still bound to the Chair and crying out for release in the name of Aslan. And a request in the name of Aslan is one of the signs! The children hesitate, for they have been led to believe that Rilian’s plea comes from a fit of insanity and nonsense. How can they trust him? But Puddleglum insists, 

“You see, Aslan didn’t tell Pole what would happen. He only told her what to do.” 

Exactly. God doesn’t usually tell us what will happen. He only tells us what to do and asks us to trust Him with what’s next. Such a needed reminder!

Caspian’s Death and the Return to England
Can we talk about emotional?! I love the clear symbolism here. Upon King Caspian’s death, Aslan whisks Jill and Eustace back to top of Aslan’s Mountain, where they see Caspian’s lifeless body in the peaceful stream. First, the fact that all of them cry is emotional in itself, especially the description of Aslan’s grief: 

“Even the Lion wept: great lion-tears, each tear more precious than the Earth would be if it was a single solid diamond.” 

And then Aslan commands Eustace to drive a thorn into his paw. I know I’d be upset at this request too, Eustace! But when the blood splashes onto Caspian, he becomes a young man again – the same vibrant king Eustace knew on the Dawn Treader. That’s when they realize they’re seeing a new and resurrected Caspian in his life after death. From the blood of a perfect King comes life – I love it! And of course, the return to England and the ensuing fight with Jill’s bullying schoolmates is the icing on the cake. I’m glad Caspian got his wish to see their world, and it’s satisfying to see that things improve at home for Jill and Eustace too. 

Favorite Quotes 

“You would not have called to me unless I had been calling to you,” said the Lion. 

“The bright side of it is,” said Puddleglum, “that if we break our necks getting down the cliffs, then we’re safe from being drowned in the river.” 

If you want to get out of a house without being seen, the middle of the afternoon is in some ways a better time to try it than in the middle of the night. Doors and windows are more likely to be open; and if you are caught, you can always pretend you weren’t meaning to go far and had no particular plans. (It is very hard to make either giants or grown-ups believe this if you’re found climbing out of a bedroom window at one o’clock in the morning.) 

There are no accidents. Our guide is Aslan; and he was there when the giant King caused the letters to be cut, and he knew already all things that would come of them; including this. 

Even in this world of course it is the stupidest children who are most childish and the stupidest grown-ups who are most grown-up. 

“Sir,” said Caspian, “I’ve always wanted to have just one glimpse of their world. Is that wrong?”
“You cannot want wrong things any more, now that you have died, my son,” said Aslan.

What are your favorite moments of The Silver Chair? How does this one rank in comparison to the other books in the series for you? I'd love to hear!

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