Trumpkin: The Modern Skeptic

“Do you believe all those old stories?” asked Trumpkin.

“I tell you, we don’t change, we beasts,” said Trufflehunter. “We don’t forget. I believe in the High King Peter and the rest that reigned at Cair Paravel, as firmly as I believe in Aslan himself.”

“As firmly as that, I dare say,” said Trumpkin. “But who believes in Aslan nowadays?”

~From C.S. Lewis’s Prince Caspian

Trumpkin is the best sort of modern man, except that he’s not a man at all but a dwarf. He’s loyal, practical, and not willing to put up with any nonsense.

Unfortunately, he considers Aslan and the kings and queens of old and Cair Paravel and the sacred How among the “nonsense”.

When the Dark Dwarf suggests introducing Caspian to an ogre and a hag, Trufflehunter argues that they would not have Aslan as a friend if they were to add such to their ranks. Trumpkin cries out bravely “Oh, Aslan! What matters much more is that you wouldn’t have me.”

Trumpkin doesn’t believe that blowing Susan’s horn will do any good–in fact, he is rather disgusted that it may lose them two fighters–but he is loyal to his king and will go in search of the help he is sure will not be coming. “I might as well die on a wild goose chase as die here. You are my King. I know the difference between giving advice and taking orders. You’ve had my advice, and now it’s time for orders.”

Once he finds himself (rather circuitously) dropped in the laps of the Promised Four, he is willing to let them be the children from the stories–but is less willing to believe that they’d be any help. It takes being beaten twice, once by Edmund at a sword fight and a second time by Susan at archery, for him to believe that they are indeed the Expected Help.

Even still, Trumpkin holds out. Yes, he is forced to admit that magic must exist (inasmuch as it has brought the Pevensies to Narnia), but that is all he will admit.

Like the modern scientist forced by the reality of this universe’s beginning to acknowledge the need for a greater cause, Trumpkin grudgingly admits to magic. But his god, like Stephen Hawking’s, is a deistic, impersonal first cause; not the Aslan of Narnian legend or the God of Scripture.

Lucy’s testimony, likewise, is unable to convince the hardened skeptic. “Her Majesty may well have seen a lion. There are lions in these woods, I’ve been told. But it needn’t have been a friendly and talking lion any more than the bear was a friendly and talking bear…He’d be a pretty elderly lion by now if he’s one you knew when you were here before! And if it could be the same one, what’s to prevent him having gone wild and witless like so many others?”

At last, Trumpkin comes to believe, but only because he has been in the lion’s mouth.

“The Dwarf, hunched up in a little, miserable ball, hung from Aslan’s mouth. The Lion gave him one shake and all his armour rattled like a tinker’s pack and then–hey-presto–the Dwarf flew up in the air. He was as safe as if he had been in bed, though he did not feel so.”

Trumpkin is no longer skeptical. He has come flesh-to-flesh with the reality of Aslan. Aslan the Dangerous, who could have killed him with a single crunch of His jaws. Aslan the Merciful, who put him on his feet and offered him friendship.

Trumpkin no longer has a choice. He can no longer deny. He can only agree with Aslan.

Chronicles of Narnia Reading Challenge

This post is another part of my investigation of how different characters in Prince Caspian relate to the truth. I am reading Prince Caspian as part of 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.

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