Halfway through the book, and we’ve almost made it to Narnia!
Right now, I think Jadis is my favorite character. She’s certainly the most interesting. I suspect that the real reason C.S. Lewis decided to have her return to our world with Digory and Polly is because he wanted to see what would happen if he let someone like her romp around London. I wish we hadn’t had to watch Digory wait around in the previous chapter, because Jadis sounds like so much more fun. When she she finally returns to the house, it’s with score of people following her, including a Cabby, police officers, and a crowd of spectators. Jadis fully believes that she’s going to take over our world, and most of the people following her think this is the most entertaining thing they’ve seen in their lives. It takes her a minute to realize that her followers are actually laughing at her.
Digory – and Polly, who was finally allowed out of bed – finally spots a chance to take the Witch to the Woods Between the Worlds. Jadis was suffering when she last went to the Woods, probably because she’s evil and that place is pure good. Digory acknowledges that it would probably be awful to abandon her there, but he doesn’t know what else he can do. Digory does manage to grab Jadis and put on his yellow ring, but in the confusion ends up taking a few extras along for the ride: Polly, Uncle Andrew, the Cabby, and the Cabby’s horse, Strawberry.
Maybe the most satisfying part of this scene is Uncle Andrew, finally getting a taste of his own medicine and whining about it.
‘Oh, oh, is this delirium? Is it the end? I can’t bear it. It’s not fair. I never meant to be a Magician. It’s all a misunderstanding. It’s my godmother’s fault; I must protest this. In my state of health too. A very old Dorsetshire family.’
This reminds me of playing video games with my friends as a kid, and the sore loser’s cries of, “that’s not fair”, “you’re cheating”, “my controller’s broken”, and, the most desperate of all, “MY DAD WORKS AT NINTENDO!”
This is about as much character development that Uncle Andrew gets for the rest of the book. On one hand, it’s a little unfortunate. On the other, it’s kind of fun to see him miserable. He seemed like such a powerful figure when Polly and Digory first encountered him, but now he’s like a small, bratty child.
One thing really intrigues me as the group is in the Woods. Strawberry begins drinking from one of the pools of water, that as we know, is a doorway to another world. My question is, what would happen if Strawberry drank the whole thing? Would the world vanish, or would it just be impossible to get to? This is what I mean when I said I thought Lewis should do more with the Woods, because it’s just such a good idea. So many questions, so many possibilities, and we’ll never know the answers.
I volunteer myself to write a spin-off series that answers all the questions I have.
After a little more confusion, the all the characters leave the woods and we’re…finally…almost in Narnia. Sort of.
Instead, the characters are whisked away to Nothing. They’re in the dark, they’re alone, and the world they’ve stumbled into is empty. They’re not in Narnia, because Narnia doesn’t exist yet. It’s dark, and then they hear a noise; a song, rather.
Most of this chapter is occupied with describing this song. I remember being enchanted by this scene as a child, but I thought I would be bored reading it as an adult. I was — as I am about many things — wrong. The world of Narnia is being sung into life, beginning with the stars. When I was a kid, this made sense to me. I didn’t know how the world began, (there was something about a Big Bang, but also something about a Garden of Eden…) so why couldn’t it have started with a song? It made about as much sense as anything else.
Even if Lewis is on the “Eden” side of the road and I’m now a fan of the Big Bang, I still enjoyed this chapter. As I reflect on it here, I can actually see some similarities between the two. The both have the same theme: From Nothing, Something. And that Something started small and grew until it’s the Something that we know today. The difference is the time scale. Here might be a good place to put a creationsim vs. evolution debate, and discuss the obviously correct choice. But that’s a little weighty for discussing a children’s book, particularly a children’s book where one of the characters is Jesus with four legs and fur.