As I read The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, I am struck with how different (for the earthlings) this trip to Narnia is than the others.
In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the Pevensies travel to Narnia by their accident but by Aslan’s grand design to fulfill the long ago prophecy of sons of Adam and sons of Eve sitting on the thrones in Cair Paravel.
In Prince Caspian, the Pevensies travel to Narnia when called by Susan’s horn to set the rightful heir to Narnia’s throne on his place.
In The Silver Chair, Eustace and Jill travel to Narnia to find and free a captured heir.
In The Last Battle, Eustace and Jill travel to Narnia to help the final king of Narnia fight his last great battle.
In each of those four titles, the earthly children travel to Narnia for a specific purpose that changes the course of Narnian history. In The Magician’s Nephew, one could argue that Digory and Polly do not travel to Narnia for the purpose of depositing evil there – but that is what they do nonetheless, forever altering the Narnian landscape (Of course, a sovereigntist such as myself might argue that this is indeed the purpose for which Digory and Polly made their way into Narnia – but I think it would be dishonest to presume that C.S. Lewis, a less eager sovereigntist, would feel the same way.)
So, in each of the other Narnian chronicles, earthly children find themselves taken to a new world, to Narnia, in order to change Narnian history. But not in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. (I am aware that the Narnia fan will accuse me of skipping The Horse and His Boy – and they would be right. I have skipped that book because it does not anywhere within it include an earthly child being transported to Narnia – and it is that scenario that I am looking at in this post.)
In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, one can indeed argue that Caspian’s great sea voyage would have turned out very differently if Edmund, Lucy, and Eustace had not been dumped into the sea beside his ship. One might even say that Caspian may well have died on his voyage were the Pevensies and Eustace not there. That certainly could have changed the course of Narnian history. But one could just as easily say that Caspian would have had an eventful but ultimately successful voyage whether or not Edmund, Lucy, and Eustace were there.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is not about the transformation of Narnia.
Instead, it explores a more subtle transformation – the transformation of people – especially of Eustace Clarence Scrubb.
I am in Narnia again this month, reading along in conjunction with Carrie’s Chronicles of Narnia Reading Challenge. Don’t forget to drop over by Reading to Know to see what kind of goodies Carrie has there for Narnia lovers!