It always stuns me a bit, how dense the Pevensie four can be.
Magically whisked out of their own world and placed along a coast of quite another, they haven’t a clue where they are.
Actually, that’s not quite right.
Lucy questions hopefully, “Do you think we can possibly have got back to Narnia?”
Yet she and the others seem entirely satisfied to drop the idea when Peter responds: “It might be anywhere.”
Why don’t they get that they’ve returned? Why can’t they understand that, of course, they’re back in Narnia?
I want to shake them, so accustomed I am to the multitudes of routes by which one might enter Narnia.
But I have to remind myself to step into their shoes, to see through their eyes.
While I have already read three books of Narnia, they have only lived two. And their two are really just one story, mostly just one visit through a single portal.
They have only entered Narnia through a wardrobe, have only known a certain way for magic to operate.
They recognize the magic but not the destination. This is not the way they are used to getting to Narnia.
Like a passenger approaching a familiar place from the opposite direction, they were confused by what they saw.
Lucy’s response is hope, hope without any apparent basis, hope easily squashed by Peter’s simple words. “It could be anywhere.” When “anywhere” turns out to be somewhat reminiscent of Narnia, with a great hall and a dais, she suggests that they “pretend we were in Cair Paravel now.”
Susan responds with a wistful nostalgia, missing Narnia but acting as though she has no hope in returning. She dreamily singsongs about “our castle of Cair Paravel at the mouth of the great river of Narnia.” She chokes up when she sees the golden chessman, speaking of the lovely times she remembers.
Edmund plays the pragmatist, seemingly unconcerned with where they are so long as they survive. He suggests that they search for fresh water, that they eat their sandwiches before they go bad, that they should somehow figure out how to survive within the woods.
And Peter–Peter is forever logical. “It could be anywhere,” he declares when they have just arrived. He does not know enough to say and so he won’t.
When they find a castle and begin to speculate, Peter is the one who correctly identifies the place they’re standing as a hall with a dais on one end.
And when Susan finds the golden chessman, it is Peter who connects the dots and concludes that they are in Narnia, articulating his logic in four points.
Now Edmund is the skeptic, questioning Peter’s conclusions, bringing up holes in his theory.
Lucy devises an hypothesis to test whether Peter’s conclusion is true.
Susan would rather not explore, would rather not know, would rather leave it all alone.
Here, as the four return to Narnia for the first time since they ruled as kings and queens, I am fascinated by how they approached the truth I can so plainly see. I am transfixed by their range of attitudes, emotions, and thoughts as they question where they are.
All throughout Prince Caspian, I see a theme. How will each character respond to truth? Will they seek it or run from it? Once they have found it, will they embrace it or fight against it? Will they dismiss it as a story, twist it in fear, or welcome it as a friend?
I’m eager to further explore this theme as we header further up and further in!
This post is (as most of you can guess) part of my participation in Carrie’s Chronicles of Narnia Reading Challenge. Follow the link to see who else is participating in the challenge–and to read some of their posts.