Reading with Little Bit: A Critical Look at The Chronicles of Narnia
The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
“Does Mrs. Beaver have a first name? Is she the only girl animal in all of Narnia?”
“No, and, um, no?”
We left off with all four children stumbling into Narnia to prove it’s all real. Peter continues his role as the leader of the group and decides to follow Lucy to Mr. Tumnus’ house. They find it ransacked by the White Witch.
Susan remains her horrible, awful self by pointing out common-sense things like that it doesn’t seem safe, it’s getting too cold, and they have nothing to eat. (Shut up, Susan.) She has to appeal to Peter to let the children wear the coats from the wardrobe, and he only relents to her sensible plan once she has persuaded him that the coats aren’t technically leaving the wardrobe. Yay, hierarchy at work!
A robin appears to lead the children away from the crime scene and into the woods. Edmund, a hated character by all at this point, points out to Peter in a whisper (“there’s no good frightening the girls”) that this may be a foolish plan. Susan is not consulted about this even though she’s more mature because she is regretfully the wrong gender for such worries. Finally the boys decide that robins are “good” so it’s all fine.
The robin runs them right into a Beaver (always capitalized). This Beaver tells them, “Aslan is on the move—perhaps has already landed.” At the very name of Jesus… I mean Aslan (*cough*), the children all feel the deepest of feels that are compared to being told something that doesn’t make sense in a dream but elicits strong emotions anyhow. The feelings work to show the character of each child: Peter felt brave, Susan felt delighted, Lucy felt excited like it was Christmas morning, and Edmund, who was in the throes of the Witch, felt a mysterious horror. I personally felt an eye-roll, and Little Bit, when asked what she felt, shrugged and said, “I’ll wait until I know more about this guy.”
Mr. Beaver takes them home and introduces them to Mrs. Beaver, described as a she-beaver who was sitting at a sewing machine, but also in the middle of making dinner. The author of this story had no trouble imagining that womenfolk can make dinner and work a sewing machine at the exact same time and so this industrious beaver was no different. What stopped her dinner efforts was a lack of fish that she could not fish for herself because of gender roles, so she had to wait for her husband to do it for her.
The Beavers’ little home is described in detail; the best detail of all is that Mr. and Mrs. Beaver sleep in bunk beds. Not kidding. The lack of sex life was probably one more point in their favor showing their purity. No wonder there are no more beavers in the future of Narnia, but again I’m getting ahead of myself.
Chapter eight is thick with backstory. The Beavers finally start telling the kids about Aslan, the prophecy about themselves, and the Witch.
(To be continued…)
June 3, 2017