This post is a continuation of Reading with Little Bit: The Chronicles of Narnia by Alexis Record.
“Hey Mom, Aslan should have had the fighters come party instead of fighting.”
“Parts of the party seem scary though.”
“Yeah, Aslan is having fun hurting people… again.”
We left off with the wild party around Aslan. It was a bacchanalian orgy with none other than Bacchus himself, surrounded by “wild women,” whom Lucy admits she wouldn’t have felt safe around without Aslan there. The party got out of control and people were drunk: everyone was laughing and “behaved as if they were blindfolded.” Fun times if there weren’t people dying off camera. Silenus, servant to the god of wine I discovered when we looked him up, starts magically calling vines to grow from the ground. The grapes formed on them were eaten by everyone with “no table-manners at all.” Then everyone flopped down breathless on the ground to admire Aslan.
I knew these books contained bloody violence, murder, and the like, but drunkenness was a whole new conversation to have with my curious nine year old.
On the other hand, I have to hand it to Lewis. He may not have liked women, dark skinned people, and nonsmokers, but he loved him a drunken dance party. He can’t be all bad. Many upstanding believers have been, and continue to be, in an uproar over all this pagan imagery in these chapters (but they’re fine with Christmas and Easter and the like). When I was little, my pastor told me to skip these pages when reading through the series. (I didn’t.)
While Aslan is partying, the army he was called to help is dying. The Badger, a good guy, says he has faith that Aslan will come. (No one point out to the poor creature that Aslan is busy with Bacchus at the moment.)
Nikabrik says a fifth of his Dwarfs have died, but no one cares. He then brings in two “friends” to help turn the battle around: a Wer-Wolf and Hag. Just to be super clear (and repeat myself), a “hag” is an old ugly woman with magical powers. Doctor Cornelius, who is in the room, also has powers, is also old and ugly, has used a crystal to find people, and has used his magic on innocent kingdom staff before they fled. But when a woman does it then it’s wrong and evil.
Peter, Edmund, and Trumpkin secretly eavesdrop on this conversation outside the door for no discernable reason (is spying on the king fine now?), while Nikabrik tells his plans of bringing the White Witch back from the dead using the hag’s powers. Immediately Caspian and the others attack and kill Nikabrik and his friends over this idea. Caspian gets bitten by the “Wer-Wolf” during the fight. Little Bit and I could not get over the fact that this meant Caspian would turn into a werewolf now. We have faith. No verification required. No evidence required. We believe it. Deep down.
Peter then kisses the Badger for never doubting. The reader is assured that: “it wasn’t a girlish thing for him to do, because he was the High King.” Yes, that’s a pull quote. Sigh.
Peter then devises a plan to ask Miraz (Caspian’s uncle who they are at war with) to a David-and-Goliath style combat to decide the war. Edmund carries the message and he’s all glowing or something. Aslan had breathed on the children and given them courage and “greatness” and other vague attributes we’re not supposed to think about too hard.
Miraz’s advisors want to kill him and take his place, so they trick Miraz into taking up Peter’s challenge. When Miraz trips during combat, the same advisors rush in, kill their own king (“the blade went home” was a fun sentence to explain to my daughter), and attack Peter and the rest. Lots of death and killing ensue. (“Gross,” says Little Bit.)
Peter calls Reepicheep a “little ass” for the crime of fighting in battle while small. This adds a level of “big” to the hierarchy. (Men over women, humans over animals, big animals over small ones, etc.) Reep had the right gender, rank, and age, but the wrong height, apparently.
Then the freaking trees all rush into battle! Victory is assured at this point. Try fighting trees.
Meanwhile Aslan is off somewhere with the girls saying things like, “We will make holiday.” What he meant by this was terrorizing a small town of people while his army was dying. Screw you, Aslan.
First Aslan has his buddy, Bacchus, destroy the bridge and release a water god. Next, the whole group of dancing, partying “wild people” visit a school for girls. They scare away all the girls (described as fat so as to justify it… I wish I were lying) except for one. Aslan asks, “You’ll stay with us, sweetheart?” and she does. I think we’re supposed to assume she’s not fat.
The Maenads, wild women, help her out of her restrictive clothing so she can join in the orgy! I can’t make this stuff up! They repeated this act in every town: terrorizing people while collecting the ones who want to join the party.
During this time the party comes upon a man beating a boy so Aslan kills the man by turning him into a tree. The boy then “burst out laughing and joined them.” Yeah, that’s a bit psycho. You definitely want psycho boy on your team. He’ll fit right in.
They come to another school where a girl is teaching a class. She declines the offer to join Aslan, saying she doesn’t want to scare her students. So what does Aslan do? Respects her decision, values her students’ wellbeing if only to show her respect, and moves on. Nah, of course he terrifies the students so badly they jump out of windows to escape. Then he turns the little boys into pigs as they flee. Then Aslan orders the girl to follow him and she joins him after first saying no. That’s not consent.
Next they come upon a child crying because his aunt is dying. Aslan goes into the house, but ends up crashing through it and destroying the whole thing. (Whoops, broke your house.) The old woman asks if the lion has come to take her away. He says yes, but “not the long journey yet.” Wait, Aslan is also the grim reaper? That’s… nuts. Then he heals her because he is apparently all powerful, too. But he isn’t healing those falling by the hundreds in the battle near there—a battle he sent people into and was summoned to help with no less.
Just to recap: Aslan just murdered, terrified, and changed the bodies of some folk, but did so while laughing and dancing like a loon. I think Aslan is really the Joker and his next move is to take Gotham.
Then they all meet up with Peter and the menfolk who were just finishing up in the battle. The human soldiers are scared of Aslan because “they had not believed in lions,” so in other words they were scared for no reason because they really believe in them “deep down,” right? Right?!
Aslan asks Caspian if he’s ready to be king. Caspian says he doesn’t think so, and Aslan says, “Good. If you had felt yourself sufficient, it would have been a proof that you were not.” That’s right, humans are garbage and know your place. (This from the religion that brought us shame for existing, taught us we were sinners, and that the wages for our natural state was eternal torture by God. Neat!) So this was a test. What if he was feeling confident? Then he’s no good as a leader? He needs to recognize how lowly and dirty he is. (There’s my childhood indoctrination in a nutshell.)
Next Reepicheep is brought before the king and he’s near death. Lucy’s magic bottle heals him, but cannot regrow his tail. Reepicheep is horrified since his tail is his honor (personally and culturally), but Aslan says he looks good that way. For real, Aslan? Reepicheep asks for his tail restored because that is in the realm of possibility, but Aslan (who has a tail, mind you) is like, “But what do you want with a tail?”
Aslan then waits until all the other mice get out their swords to take their own tails (because they cannot have theirs if their High Mouse doesn’t have his) and is then moved enough to restore it. But he didn’t do it “for the sake of your dignity” he lets the mouse know. (Dick!) He just liked that others were willing to mutilate themselves. (Dick!!!)
Then Aslan explains where all these humans came from. They all come from six pirates and their captured wives (that’s rape, just to be clear), who found a cave that acted like the wardrobe of the first book, catapulting them to Narnia. They all interbred and now there’s a bunch of humans in Narnia. Aslan tells us that’s why Caspian is a true king of Narnia, “You, Sir Caspian, might have known that you could be no true King of Narnia unless, like the Kings of old, you were a son of Adam.” When Caspian learns he comes from pirates he’s ashamed, but Aslan says, “You come of the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve. And that is both honour enough to erect the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor on earth.”
Humans, God’s favorite animals! I remember being told I was a princess of the King, but also I was a horrible, wretched sinner. Which is it? Yes! Both! Humans are the best worst! Yay Christian worldview!
Aslan sends all the humans, the ones who want to go anyway, back to Earth. This includes Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy. Aslan tells Peter and Susan that they won’t be returning to Narnia because they are “getting too old” so this is their last trip before they are boring grown-ups who he couldn’t care less about.
The book ends when the children get back to their train station (“to Hogwarts!”) as if they had never been away.
There were parts of this book I cheered (Susan shot at some guy! Everyone is getting drunk and out of restrictive clothing!) and parts I hated reading. I felt uncomfortable remembering how much I venerated Aslan when I was a child. I was blinded by indoctrination and empty obedient fear and adoration. It makes me sick now–especially reading how Aslan tortured and terrorized people and realizing I once rooted him on. Little Bit is ready to move to the third book, but I need a breather to come to terms with the absolute awful things I once accepted as good. At least this time around I got to call him a dick a lot.
July 29, 2017