The Magician’s Nephew, Chap. 11: Bit Characters and Other Matters

I’ve praised some of the ideas C.S. Lewis had, but there’s one thing that’s a little harder to get over: the chapter titles. Some of them are just so incredibly bland. Take a look:

Chapter 6: The Beginning of Uncle Andrew’s Troubles
Chapter 7: What Happened at the Front Door
Chapter 10: The First Joke and Other Matters

And we’ve finally reached Chapter 11: Digory and His Uncle Are Both in Trouble.

The first half of this chapter is nothing but the animals trying to figure out what, exactly, Uncle Andrew is. They eventually decide that he’s a tree, and plant him in the ground. It’s amusing, but it has nothing to do with the rest of the story. To be honest, I’m not even sure why Uncle Andrew even had to come to Narnia with the other characters. He’s been demoted from intriguing Magician to comic relief, by way of misfortune. At this point, he has nothing to do with the rest of the story. I also don’t like to see clever and brave Polly relegated to the background. She should have a much bigger part in the story right now; certainly, she deserves a bigger role than Uncle Andrew. Much more so than the Cabby as well, who has only just been given a name. Seriously, we learn his horse’s name before his.

Aslan decrees the Cabby, Frank, will be king of Narnia. This is presumably because Frank is the only human adult in the group who isn’t evil. This also begs the question why Aslan wanted a human to run the country in the first place. So far, Uncle Andrew, Jadis, and Digory (to a point) haven’t been shining examples of our species. All the sentient beings in Narnia are either animals or some kind of mythological creature, like dryads and fauns. Why not let one of its native people rule the country, maybe someone that Aslan specifically chose for his council? And how is Frank going to know what’s best for the animals, talking or otherwise? It reminds me of reading an X-rated fanfiction that was clearly written by a virgin. Maybe you know what’s supposed to happen, but it’s obvious to everyone reading it that you’ve got no clue what you’re writing about.

Do you think C.S. Lewis was pro-Imperialism?

Despite that head-scratcher, I’m kind of okay with Aslan’s reasons that Frank qualifies as king. Writing this during an election year, I wish politics really were this simple and straightforward.

“‘Begging your pardon, sir,’ he said, ‘and thank you very much I’m sure (which my Missus does the same) but I ain’t no sort of chap for a job like that. I never ‘ad much eddycation, you see.’

‘Well,’ said Aslan, ‘can you use a spade and a plow and raise food out of the earth?’

‘Yes, sir, I could do a bit of that sort of work: being brought up to it, like.’

‘Can you rule these creatures kindly and fairly, remembering they are not slaves like the dumb beasts of the world you were born in, but Talking Beasts and free subjects?’

‘I see that, sir,’ replied the Cabby. ‘I’d try to do the square thing by them all.’

‘And would you bring up your children and grandchildren to do the same?’

‘It’d be up to me to try, sir. I’d do my best: wouldn’t we, Nellie?’

‘And you wouldn’t have favorites either among your own children or among the other creatures or let any hold under another or is use it hardly?’

‘I never could abide such goings on, sir, and that’s the truth. I’d give ’em what for if I caught ’em at it,’ said the Cabby.”

“And will you build a wall between Narnia and Archenland, and deport all Archenlanders who have not legally come to this country?”*

But between Uncle Andrew being planted in the ground and Frank becoming king, Aslan has to deal with Digory, as he was the one who woke Jadis and brought her into Narnia. Aslan says that Digory must find a magical tree far away, take one of its fruits, and plant it in Narnia. This tree will help protect Narnia from Jadis for hundreds of years. When Digory owns up to the role he had in waking Jadis, his exchange with Aslan is a little…disappointing.

“‘She woke up,’ said Digory wretchedly. And then, turning very white, ‘I mean, I woke her. Because I wanted to know what would happen if I struck a bell. Polly didn’t want to. It wasn’t her fault. I–I fought her. I know I shouldn’t have. I think I was a bit enchanted by the writing under the bell.’

‘Do you?’ asked Aslan; still speaking very low and deep.

‘No,’ said Digory. ‘I see now I wasn’t. I was only pretending.'”

But that was so cool! It was scary and intriguing and now you’re saying that the magic was all in Digory’s head?

Thanks for taking away the scariest part of the book, Aslan.

Digory, you broke Narnia. C.S. Lewis, you broke my heart.

*Please note that Donald Drumpf’s point of view does not reflect the author’s, and that Drumpf is a tool.**
**Though it is worth saying that the Calormenes are C.S. Lewis’s view of Muslims, and are not portrayed in a flattering light. So really, building a wall between Narnia and Calormen would make more sense for this predictable joke.

†Please don’t vote for Trump. Please, please, please.